Isaiah's Unbelievable Report

© 2006 Tony Garland

I.                    Isaiah 53

A.                 Please turn with me in your bibles to Isaiah chapter 53.

B.                Next two Sundays explore an irrefutable and powerful prophecy considered by many to be the “Holy of Holies” of the OT.

II.                  Historic Background

A.                 Isaiah’s Ministry

1.                  Is 1:1 - The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

2.                  A prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, during the period of the divided kingdom, ca. 700 B.C.[1]

3.                  Ministry spanned the period when the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) fell to Assyria (722 BC).

B.                Irrefutable evidence of God’s ability to prophesy!

1.                  The Septuagint

a)                 A Greek translation of the Old Testament undertaken in Alexandria, Egypt.

b)                 285 - ca. 130 BC.

2.                  The Dead Sea Scrolls

a)                 Discovered as early as 1935 or 1936, but no later than 1946.[2]

b)                 Scrolls written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. More than 900 documents, representing as many as 350 separate works in multiple copies.[3]

c)                 Isaiah Scrolls found in Cave One, the cave of the initial discovery, are believed to predate the birth of Jesus by 100 years.

(1)               Two scrolls, one complete and one incomplete.[4]

(2)               Paleographic analysis dates complete Isaiah scroll as having been copied in about 125 BCE.[5]

d)                 A scroll, much like that Jesus used when he read in the village synagogue at Nazareth:

(1)               "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."  Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:18-21 cf. Isa. 61:1)

3.                  Clearly, the book of Isaiah was written well in advance of the birth of Jesus!

III.                Jewish Translation

A.                  To counter the claim of Christian mistranslation of the Jewish text to attempt to find fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth.

B.                Tanakh -- Jewish Publication Society, with commentary from The Jewish Study Bible[6]

C.                JPS Translation
Is 52:13-53:12
52:13 “Indeed, My servant shall prosper, Be exalted and raised to great heights.

52:14 Just as the many were appalled at him- So marred was his appearance, unlike that of man, His form, beyond human semblance-

52:15 Just so he shall startle many nations. Kings shall be silenced because of him, For they shall see what has not been told them, Shall behold what they never have heard.”

53:1 “Who can believe what we have heard? Upon whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

53:2  For he has grown, by His favor, like a tree crown, Like a tree trunk out of arid ground. He had no form or beauty, that we should look at him: No charm, that we should find him pleasing.

53:3 He was despised, shunned by men, A man of suffering, familiar with disease. As one who hid his face from us, He was despised, we held him of no account.

53:4 Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, Our suffering that he endured. We accounted him plagued, Smitten and afflicted by God;

53:5 But he was wounded because of our sins, Crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, And by his bruises we were healed.

53:6 We all went astray like sheep, Each going his own way; And the Lord visited upon him The guilt of all of us.”

53:7 He was maltreated, yet he was submissive, He did not open his mouth; Like a sheep being led to slaughter, Like a ewe, dumb before those who shear her, He did not open his mouth.

53:8 By oppressive judgment he was taken away, Who could describe his abode? For he was cut off from the land of the living Through the sin of my people, who deserved the punishment.

53:9 And his grave was set among the wicked, And with the rich, in his death- Though he had done no injustice And had spoken no falsehood.

53:10 But the Lord chose to crush him by disease, That, if he made himself an offering for guilt, He might see offspring and have long life, And that through him the Lord’s purpose might prosper.

53:11 Out of his anguish he shall see it; He shall enjoy it to the full through his devotion. “My righteous servant makes the many righteous, It is their punishment that he bears;

53:12 Assuredly, I will give him the many as his portion, He shall receive the multitude as his spoil. For he exposed himself to death And was numbered among the sinners, Whereas he bore the guilt of the many And made intercession for sinners.”

D.                Who is this Person?

1.                  Question: “What historical figure could these few paragraphs possibly be describing?”

2.                  Incredibly: skeptics reject or ignore this passage as having application to Jesus although it was demonstrably written prior to His birth.

3.                  Jews, who must find every means to avoid the obvious fulfillment of this passage in the life of Jesus, also are clueless as to the identity of this “mysterious figure.”

a)                 Jewish Study Bible
“One of the most difficult and contested passages in the Bible, these fifteen vv. Have attracted an enormous amount of attention from ancient, medieval, and modern scholars. In particular the identity of the servant is vigorously debated. Many argue that the servant symbolizes the entire Jewish people. The passage, then, describes the nation’s unjust tribulations at the hands of the Babylonians (and later oppressors) as well as the nation’s salvific role for the world at large. Others maintain that the passage describes a pious minority within the Jewish people; this minority suffers as a result of the sins committed by the nation at large. . . . Other scholars argue that the servant in this passage is a specific individual. Targum[7] and various midrashim[8] identify the servant as the Messiah, but this suggestion is unlikely, since nowhere else does Deutero-Isaiah refer to the Messiah, and the absence of a belief in an individual Messiah is one of the hallmarks of Deutero-Isaiah’s outlook.”[9]

(1)               The JPS has imbibed the liberal theory of two or more Isaiah’s.

(2)               1st Isaiah is said to have written chapters 1-39

(3)               2nd Isaiah is said to have written chapters 40-66

(4)               “nowhere else does Deutero-Isaiah refer to the Messiah’ - a bold claim easily refuted (cf. Isa. 49:1-9) - not to mention Jesus’ own application of Isa. 61:1 to His own ministry!

(5)               The Jewish commentary goes on to suggest a possible identification with Jeremiah or Moses.

b)                 Raphael Patai, another Jewish scholar
”the Messiah becomes heir to the Suffering Servant of God, who figures prominently in the prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah, and who suffers undeservedly for the sins of others. While some scholars maintain that the Suffering Servant is the Messiah, at least one passage in the Biblical text identifies the Suffering Servant with Israel (see Isa. 49:3). There can be little doubt that psychologically the Suffering Messiah is but a projection and personification of Suffering Israel.”[10]

4.                  Fortunately, the Ethiopian eunuch had a more open mind and better guidance when reading this passage:
The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" (Acts 8:34)

IV.               Exposition and Quotes

A.                 Discuss verses while touching on other rabbinical witnesses concerning the identity of the Servant

B.                52:13 “Indeed, My servant shall prosper, Be exalted and raised to great heights.

1.                  servant - the theme of the suffering servant runs throughout Isaiah

a)                 Used in reference to Isaiah (Isa. 20:3; 50:10?)

b)                 Used in reference to David (Isa. 37:35)

c)                 Sometimes refers to Israel (Isa. 41:8-9; 42:1943:10; 44:1-2,21; 45:4)

d)                 An unnamed person of great godliness and influence (Isa. 42:1; 49:3-7; 52:13; 53:11)

2.                  “prosper” is sakal can also mean “have insight,” sometimes by means of practical first-person experience.

C.                52:14 Just as the many were appalled at him- So marred was his appearance, unlike that of man, His form, beyond human semblance-

1.                  “at him” is aleyka, 2nd person pronominal suffix - “at you”

2.                  “beyond human semblance” - unlike the “sons of man” or “descendants of Adam” (baniy adam).

D.                52:15 Just so he shall startle many nations. Kings shall be silenced because of him, For they shall see what has not been told them, Shall behold what they never have heard.”

1.                  “Just so” is cen, “therefore” - his startling or sprinkling is due to his disfigurement

2.                   “startle” may refer to when the unbelieving finally see him at their time of judgment

a)                 Rabbi Mosheh Ben Nachman (1250-1270 CE)
“Their astonishment was shewn by mocking him when he first arrived and by asking how one ‘despised’, ‘meek and riding upon an ass’ (Zech. 9:9) could conquer all those kings of the world”

b)                 root is naza, which can also be translated “sprinkle” (hiphil, causative)

(1)               nāzâ signifies a spattering or (Hiphil) sprinkling of blood, oil, or water either with one’s finger (Lev 4:6) . . . “Sprinkling” has reference to cleansing from sin . . . to obtain ritual purity.[11]

3.                  Relation to Psalm 2
Ps 2:8-12 - Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ” Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

4.                  “shall behold” is from bana, “to make clear” - speaking of paying attention or gaining understanding

E.                 53:1 “Who can believe what we have heard? Upon whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

1.                  “believe” is the hiphil form of “Amen” (Jesus uses as “verily, truly”) - who “is confident in”

2.                  “we have heard” is shemuatenu - “the report of us” or “the report [which was delivered to] us” (hence we heard), possibly referring to the previous passage.

3.                  “arm of the Lord” speaks of God’s arms as the instrument of deliverance or judgment

F.                 53:2  For he has grown, by His favor, like a tree crown, Like a tree trunk out of arid ground. He had no form or beauty, that we should look at him: No charm, that we should find him pleasing.

1.                  “He will grow up as a tender root before the face of Him”

a)                 root is shoresh

(1)               Isa. 11:1 - There shall come forth a root from the trunk of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him . . .

(2)               Isa. 11:10 - And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him.

2.                  Maimonides (1135-1204 BCE)[12]
"What is to be the manner of Messiah's advent, . . . there shall rise up one of whom none have known before, and the signs and wonders which they shall see performed by him will be the proofs of his true origin. . . . And Isaiah speaks. . . of the time when he will appear, without his father or mother or family being known 'He came up as a sucker before him, and as a root out of the dry earth, etc.' But the unique phenomenon attending his manifestation is, that all the kings of the earth will hearken to him, 'At him kings will shut their mouth; for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heart they have perceived."[13]

G.                53:3 He was despised, shunned by men, A man of suffering, familiar with disease. As one who hid his face from us, He was despised, we held him of no account.

1.                  “shunned” is chadel - rejected

a)                 Rejected by Nations

(1)               Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed (Mashiach, Cristos), (Psalms 2:1-2a)

b)                 Rejected by the Jews

(1)               Yeshua vs. Yeshu
Rabbinic name for Yeshua which is a deliberate slur made by dropping the last letter (the "ah" sound) to avoid the implication of Him representing "salvation." Then the first three letters [the consonants Yod Shin Vav] are used as an acronym: "Yimach SHmo V'zichrono," meaning "may his name and memory be blotted out."

(2)               He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. (John 1:11)

c)                 Isaiah saw his universal rejection
Is 49:7 - Thus says the Lord, The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, To Him whom man despises, To Him whom the nation [singular] abhors, To the Servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise, Princes also shall worship, Because of the Lord who is faithful, The Holy One of Israel; And He has chosen You.”

2.                  A man of “suffering”

a)                 Sorrows - mak’ob - often refers to mental anguish as in “sorrow of heart” - like Jesus expressed in the Garden of Gethsemane where he was in “agony” (Luke 22:44).

3.                  familiar with disease

a)                 Familiar is yada - to know from experience

b)                 Disease is choli which can refer to a condition brought about through physical injury or wounding.

4.                  As one who hid his face from us

a)                 The JPS translation is to be questioned here. The word for face is paniym (plural) - faces. How can one individual hide multiple faces?

b)                 Stone Edition of Tanach - “as one from whom we would hide our faces; he was despised and we had no regard for him”[14]

H.                53:4 Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, Our suffering that he endured. We accounted him plagued, Smitten and afflicted by God;

53:5 But he was wounded because of our sins, Crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, And by his bruises we were healed.

53:6 We all went astray like sheep, Each going his own way; And the Lord visited upon him The guilt of all of us.”

1.                  afflicted by God - can speak of being struck with leprosy

a)                 Babylonian Talmud, concerning Isa. 53:4
"The Messiah--what is his name?. . . The Rabbis say, “The leprous one;” those of the house of Rabbi Yda the Saint say, 'The sick one,' as it is said, 'Surely he hath borne our sicknesses'" (Sanhedrin 98b)[15]

b)                 “Some modern scholars suggest that the Servant is presented here as a leper. Certainly  (nagua, "stricken") is used in connection with leprosy in 2 Kings 15:5, but this does not constitute full proof; nor does the use of   (nega, "skin disease," from the same root) in Lev 13:2-3 et al., because 2 Kings 15:5 uses a different noun. There is however support from rabbinic sources. In such a picturesque writer as Isaiah, it is possible that he identified the Servant as a leper metaphorically to picture his social isolation and substitutionary sin-bearing.”[16]

2.                  he was wounded

a)                 wounded is chalal - “the penetration of a sharp object into the body”

b)                 "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for [his] only [son], and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)

(1)               Zec. 12:10 has daqar - to be pierced through

3.                  because of our sins

a)                 sins is pasha which emphasizes defiance of authority

b)                 Stone edition of Tanach - “he was pained because of our rebellious sins”

4.                  crushed because of our iniquities

a)                 Jewish Study Bible
“Either the servant suffered on behalf of the speakers (i.e., the guilty were not punished at all), or he suffered along with the guilty, even though he himself did not share in the guilt of his fellow Israelites. The former idea (i.e., the notion of vicarious suffering) would be unusual for the Bible; the latter idea (the idea of corporate guilt) is not.”[17]

b)                 iniquities is ‘aown

(1)               based on the idea of “to bend” or “to twist” - “to deviate from the way,” “to make crooked.”

(a)               “each going his own way” - literally  “turning his head away from the path”

(2)               taking that which is right and perverting it

(3)               Scapegoat
Le 16:21-22 - Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

c)                 Herz Homberg
”The fact is that it refers to King Messiah, who will come in the latter days . . . and even the Israelites themselves will only regard him as ‘one of the vain fellows’, believing none of the announcements which will be made by him in God’s name . . . For they will not at first perceive that whatever he underwent was in consequence of their own transgression, the Lord having chosen him to be a trespass offering, like the scapegoat which bore all the iniquities of the house of Israel.”[18]

5.                  Yepheth Ben ‘Ali
”Others . . . think . . . ‘behold my servant will be prosperous’ and ‘so shall he sprinkle’, refer to the Messiah. As to myself, I am inclined, . . . to regard it as alluding to the Messiah, . . . He thus gives us to understand two things; In the first instance, that the Messiah will only reach his highest degree of honour after long and severe trials; and secondly that these trials will be sent upon him as a kind of sign, so that, if he finds himself under the yoke of misfortunes whilst remaining pure in his actions, he may know that he is the desired one . . . By the words ‘surely he hath carried our sicknesses,’ they mean that the pains and sicknesses which he fell into were merited by them, but that he bore them instead; the next words ‘yet we did esteem him,’ etc., intimate that they thought him afflicted by God for his own sins, . . .”[19]

6.                  Matthew
This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases."  (Matthew 8:17)

7.                  Siphre
”How much more, then, will the King Messiah, who endures affliction and pains for the transgressors, as it is written, ‘He was wounded,’ etc., justify all generations! And this is what is meant when it is said, ‘And the Lord made the iniquity of us all meet upon him.’”[20]

8.                  "The Bereshith Rabbah (11th century) of Rabbi Moshe Hadarshan states that the Holy One gave Messiah the opportunity to save souls, but to be severely chastised. We then find these words: . . .and forthwith the Messiah accepted the chastisements of love, as it is written, 'He was oppressed, and he was afflicted.' . . . And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks for mercy upon them, as it is written, 'By his stripes we are healed,' and , 'He carried the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.'"[21]

9.                  The need for a sinless sacrifice

a)                 "You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God a bull or sheep which has any blemish [or] defect, for that [is] an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 17:1)

10.             Hints of the Virgin birth

a)                 Messiah cannot be “in Adam”

(1)               Therefore, as through one man's offense [judgment] came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act [the free gift came] to all men, resulting in justification of life. (Romans 5:18)

b)                 Koran - Jesus sinless (Surah 19:19)
He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.[22]

(1)               No other individual in the Koran is referred to as a “holy son”.

(2)               The Koran also records that Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus was a direct act of God - no human father was involved (Surah 19:20-22).

c)                 No deceit in His mouth (Isa. 53:9)

d)                 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, [appoints] the Son who has been perfected forever. (Hebrews 7:26-28)

e)                 There is no Christianity-indeed no redemption-without the Virgin birth.

(1)               A sacrifice: this is why Jesus is man.

(2)               Sinless: this is why Jesus is God.

11.             Notice the universal language: “We all went astray . . . the Lord visited upon him the guilt of all of us.”

I.                    53:7 He was maltreated, yet he was submissive, He did not open his mouth; Like a sheep being led to slaughter, Like a ewe, dumb before those who shear her, He did not open his mouth.

53:8 By oppressive judgment he was taken away, Who could describe his abode? For he was cut off from the land of the living Through the sin of my people, who deserved the punishment.

53:9 And his grave was set among the wicked, And with the rich, in his death- Though he had done no injustice And had spoken no falsehood.

1.                  His submissive silence is emphasized

a)                 How quick we are to protest the smallest injustice, yet the only Just One stood silent before railing sinners whose own sin He would bear

b)                 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, "Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?" But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. (Matthew 27:12-14)

c)                 And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. (Mark 15:3)

2.                  How could this possibly describe the nation Israel? Surely she has been maltreated. Surely she has been led to the slaughter. But has she been submissive? Has she not opened her mouth?

3.                  This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

a)                 The JPS Tanach - Abraham offers up Isaac
Isaac asks, “. . . where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering, my son.”

b)                 “A midrash has Abraham praying that God “see the blood of this ram as if it were the blood of my son Isaac, the entrails of this ram as if they were the entrails of my son Issac” (Gen. Rab.56.9).[23]

4.                  Jewish Study Bible - “Scholars debate whether these lines describe the literal death of the servant. . .”[24]

a)                 But name any other Biblical sacrifice which does not involve the death or destruction of the thing offering?

5.                  Though he had done no injustice and had spoken no falsehood

a)                 Emphasizing his innocence

(1)               When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather [that] a tumult was rising, he took water and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see [to it]." (Matthew 27:24)

(2)               Judas: "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." And they said, "What [is that] to us? You see [to it]!" (Matthew 27:4)

J.                  53:10 But the Lord chose to crush him by disease, That, if he made himself an offering for guilt, He might see offspring and have long life, And that through him the Lord’s purpose might prosper.

53:11 Out of his anguish he shall see it; He shall enjoy it to the full through his devotion. “My righteous servant makes the many righteous, It is their punishment that he bears;

1.                  God “chose”  - chaphets - a preferred or voluntary choice

a)                 God so loved the world that He gave . . . (John 3:16)

2.                  by disease

a)                 hiphil stem - to cause to suffer with wounds

b)                 Stone edition - He afflicted him

3.                  himself an offering for guilt

a)                 offering is ‘asham - used of an atoning sacrifice

b)                 himself is nephesho -construct - “the soul of him”

(1)               'For the life [nephesh] of the flesh [is] in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it [is] the blood [that] makes atonement for the soul.' (Leviticus 17:11)

(2)               And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22)

c)                 This is a blood sacrifice - the Servant dies.

4.                  he might see offspring and have long life

a)                 Jewish Study Bible
“The servant is vindicated. Either he is saved from a fate like death, or he is actually described as being resurrected. In the latter case, his resurrection is probably a metaphor for the renewal of the nation at the end of the exile.”[25]

b)                 Rabbi Levi Ben Gershom
”that he will be ‘greater than Moses’, which is explained to mean that his miracles will be greater than Moses’; Moses, by the miracles which he wrought, drew but a single nation to the worship of God, but the Messiah will draw all nations to the worship of God . . . And this will be effected by means of a marvelous sign, to be seen by all the nations even to the ends of the earth, viz, the resurrection of the dead.”[26]

c)                 Who could it be?

(1)               The Jewish Scriptures declare of Messiah

(a)               Micah 5:2 - born in Bethlehem

(b)              Ps. 22:16 - hands and feet pierced

(c)               Isa. 52:14 - disfigured

(d)              Isa. 7:14 - named Immanuel (God with us)

(e)               Isa. 53:9,12 - innocent, without guilt, able to bear the guilt of others.

(f)                 Zec. 9:9 - presented as king riding a donkey

(g)              Isa. 7:14 - born of a virgin (hence without the sin of Adam)

(h)              Zec. 12:10 - pierced by His own, the Jews

(i)                 Isa. 49:6 - sought by Gentiles

i)                    Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'" (Isaiah 49:6)

(j)                 Dan. 9:25-27 - presented as king in approximately A.D. 30 and cut off after 69 sevens

(k)               Gen. 49:10 - From tribe of Judah

(l)                 Ps. 110:1; Isa. 9:7 - David’s Son and David’s Lord

(2)               Searching history, can we find such a candidate? A Jewish individual who meets these qualifications, was killed and then resurrected?

K.                53:12 Assuredly, I will give him the many as his portion, He shall receive the multitude as his spoil. For he exposed himself to death And was numbered among the sinners, Whereas he bore the guilt of the many And made intercession for sinners.”

1.                  he exposed himself to death

a)                 literally, “he poured out to death the soul [nephesh] of him”

b)                 This speaks of the pouring of his blood as a sacrifice

(1)               "You shall take [some] of the blood of the bull and put [it] on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour all the blood beside the base of the altar. (Exodus 29:12)

(2)               For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13-14)

2.                  numbered among the sinners

a)                 Sinners is the participle poshim - “rebellious ones”

b)                 Those who knew no better counted him no different than the thieves with which he was crucified.

c)                 Even God “counted him” as if he were the sinners whom he justified

(1)               For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

3.                  bore the guilt of many

a)                 but not all
For in this way God loved the world: that for this reason He gave His only begotten son so that all the [ones] believing in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16)

4.                  made intercession for sinners

a)                 made intercession is paga (hiphil stem) - to speak on behalf of someone else

(1)               My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

(2)               For [there is] one God and one Mediator between God and men, [the] Man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5)

b)                 Stone Edition of Tanach
”In exile, Jews prayed for the welfare of their host nations.”[27]

c)                 Targum of Jonathan on Isaiah 53:11-12
“He [Messiah] shall . . . seek forgiveness for their sins. Then I will apportion unto him the spoil of great nations, and he shall divide as spoil the wealth of mighty cities, because he was ready to suffer martyrdom that the rebellious might subjugate to the Torah. And he shall seek pardon for the sins of many, and for his sake the rebellious shall be forgiven.”[28]

V.                 We are in the best of company when we hold this passage to be about Messiah!

A.                 Rabbi Moseh Kohen Ibn Crispin of Cordoba and Toledo in Spain (ca. 1350)
. . . I am pleased to interpret it, in accordance with the teaching of our Rabbis, of the King Messiah, and will be careful, so far as I am able, to adhere to the literal sense thus, possibly, I shall be free from the forced and far-fetched interpretations of which others have been guilty. . . . This prophecy was delivered by Isaiah at the divine command for the purpose of making known to us something about the nature of the future Messiah, who is to come and deliver Israel, . . .[29]

1.                  The Prayer Book for the Day of Atonement, the Musaf Prayer written by Rabbi Eliezer Kalir (ca. 7th century AD):
”Messiah our righteousness is departed from us: horror hath seized us, and we have none to justify us. He hath borne the yoke of our iniquities, and our transgression, and is wounded because of our transgression. He beareth our sins on his shoulder, that he may find pardon for our iniquities. We shall be healed by his wound, at the time that the Eternal will create him as a new creature. O bring him up from the circle of the earth. Raise him up from Seir, to assemble us the second time on
Mount Lebanon, by the hand of Yinnon.”

a)                 Messiah departs (having previously arrived)

b)                 He bears their sin

c)                 He is “recreated” (we know to be the resurrection)

d)                 A second return and assembly.

B.                The Rabbis knew Messiah will suffer and justify sinners

VI.               The Cost of Unbelief

A.                 Unbelief on the part of the children of Israel  turned what should have been an 11-day journey to the Promised Land into a forty-year trek in the wilderness (Deu. 1:2).

B.                Who can count the cost of unbelief, on the part of the nation of Israel, which led to the crucifixion of their own Messiah?

1.                  "Israel must, indeed, be dumb if one asks them today: Tell me, pray: How can it be that the Eternal sent the fathers out of their land into captivity in Babylon for only seventy years, on account of all the abominations and idolatry by which they for centuries defiled the Holy Land:--and now Israel has been dispersed among all peoples for over eighteen hundred years, and Jerusalem, the city of the great King, is trodden down by the nations until this day? What, then, is the great and terrible blood-guiltiness which perpetually prevents you from dwelling in peace in the land of your fathers?--But Israel is not willing to know! And yet it is precisely its sin against its Messiah that is indeed the root of Israel's misery."[30]

C.                How about you? Have you believed “our report”? Has the arm or workings of the Lord been revealed to you? What will be the cost of your unbelief?

1.                  Rabbi Eliyyah de Vidas  wrote the following c. 1575 concerning Isa :
'But he was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities,' the meaning of which is that since the Messiah bears our iniquities which produce the effect of his being bruised, it follows that whoso will not admit that the Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities, must endure and suffer for them himself."
[31]

2.                  Isa. 53:5 - He bore the chastisement that made us whole

a)                 Made us whole is shalomenu - our peace

b)                 Is He bearing your chastisement? Do you have peace with God?

VII.             Appendices

A.                 Septuagint translation of Isaiah
O Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? We brought a report as of a child before him; he is a root in a thirsty land; he has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form or beauty. But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the baring of sickness, for his face is turned from us; he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins, and is pained for us yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction. But he was sounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed. All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins. And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death. And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practiced no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth. The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If ye can give an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed: the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to shew him light, and to form him with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins. Therefore he shall inherit many, and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty; because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many and was delivered because of their iniquities. [32]

B.                English Translation of Isaiah 53 from the Great Isaiah (Dead Sea) Scroll

1.                  See the copyrighted translation on the internet by Fred P. Miller
http://www.ao.net/~fmoeller/isa53trn.htm



[1] His last datable oracles were in 701 B.C., though the noncanonical Ascension of Isaiah states that he was martyred (cf. Heb 11:37) in the reign of Manasseh (who came to the throne in 687 B.C.). [Geoffrey W. Grogan, “Isaiah” in Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Zondervan, 1992).]

[2] Bedouins do not keep time like Westerners, but like the ancients; they view time in a connection with other events. So the exact date of the discovery is not certain. The new, revised date for the first scroll discovery is 1935 or 1936. [Peter Colon, “The Dead Sea Scrolls’ True Treasure,” Israel My Glory, January February 2006, p. 29.]

[3] Early descriptions of the Qumran scrolls mentioned 600 manuscripts, a number that has grown in our imagination to 700, 800, 900, and now 931, according to my calculations of August 2002 based on data included in the introductory volume to the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series (vol. 39, Oxford: Clarendon press, 2002). [James VanderKam and Peter Flint, The Meaning Of The Dead Sea Scrolls (San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins Publishers, 2003), p. ix.]

[4] Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls In English (New York, NY: The Penguin Press, 1997), p. 602.

[5] VanderKam and Flint, p. 131.

[6] Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford, NY: The Jewish Publication Society, 2004). For an alternate Jewish translation, see Nosson Scherman, ed., Tanach - The Stone Edition (Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, Ltd., 2001).

[7] A paraphrased translation.

[8] Commentary on the Tanak. Tanak stands for the Torah (Law). the Nevi’im (prophets), and the Kettubim (writings)

[9] Berlin and Brettler.

[10] Raphael Patai The Messiah Texts (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1979), pp. 104-105.

[11]R. Laird Harris and Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Theological Wordbook Of The Old Testament - Vol. I (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1980).

[12] Rabbi Joseph ben Maimon who lived 1135-1204 C.E. in Fostat (near Cairo) Egypt and wrote a Mishnah Torah and a commentary on the Mishnah.

[13] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998), p. 126.

[14] Scherman

[15] Fruchtenbaum, p. 125.

[16] Grogan.

[17] Berlin and Brettler.

[18] Eastman and Smith, p. 197.

[19] Eastman and Smith, p. 190.

[20] Eastman and Smith.

[21] Fruchtenbaum, p. 126.

[22]Ali, A. Y. (2004). The meaning of the Holy Qur'an (Electronic version.) (Surah 19:19).

[23] Berlin and Brettler, Gen. 22:13

[24] Berlin and Brettler.

[25] Berlin and Brettler.

[26] Eastman and Smith, pp. 197-198.

[27] Scherman.

[28] Mark Eastman and Chuck Smith, The Search For Messiah (Costa Mesa, CA: The Word For Today, 1993), p. 187.

[29] Fruchtenbaum, p. 127.

[30] Erich Sauer, The Dawn Of World Redemption (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman's Publishing Company, c1964, 1951), pp. 118-119.

[31] Fruchtenbaum, p. 127.

[32] The variety of the translators is proved by the unequal character of the [Greek] version: some books show that the translators were by no means competent to the task, while others, on the contrary, exhibit on the whole a careful translation. The Pentateuch is considered to be the part the best executed, while the book of Isaiah appears to be the very worst. [Lancelot C.L. Brenton, Old Testament - The Septuagint With Apocrypha: Greek And English (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992), p. iii]