|Book||Book of Isaiah|
|Christian Bible part||Old Testament|
|Order in the Christian part||23|
Isaiah 53 is the fifty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains the prophecies attributed to the prophet Isaiah, and is one of the Books of the Prophets. Chapters 40-55 are known as "Deutero-Isaiah" and date from the time of the Israelites' exile in Babylon.
- 1 Fourth servant song
- 2 Text
- 3 Textual versions
- 4 Jewish literature
- 5 New Testament
- 6 Jewish–Christian relations
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes and references
- 9 External links
Fourth servant song
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 he stricken.— Isaiah 53:8, KJV
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 makes up the fourth of the "Servant Songs" of the Book of Isaiah, describing a "servant" of God.
It is argued[by whom?] that the "servant" represents the nation of Israel, which would bear excessive iniquities, pogroms, blood libels, anti-judaism, antisemitism and continue to suffer without cause (Isaiah 52:4) on behalf of others (Isaiah 53:7,11–12). Early on, the servant of the Lord is promised to prosper and "be very high". The following evaluation of the Servant by the "many nations, kings", and "we" Isaiah 52:15 is quite negative, though, and bridges over to their self-accusation and repentance after verse 4 ("our"). Then, the Servant is vindicated by God, "because he bared his soul unto death". On the other hand, it is argued that the "servant" in this song might be an individual. And because of the references to sufferings, many Christians believe this song, along with the rest of the servant songs, to be among the messianic prophecies of Jesus.
The original text of this chapter, as with the rest of the Book of Isaiah, was written in Hebrew language. Since the division of the Bible into chapters and verses in the late medieval period, this chapter is divided into 12 verses.
The passage survives in a number of autonomous and parallel manuscript traditions, primarily: the Masoretic text that is the most familiar one, the Septuagint text, and the Qumran community's Great Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, dated to the 2nd century BCE.
Some ancient manuscripts containing this chapter in Hebrew language:
- Masoretic Text (10th century)
- Qumran community's Dead Sea Scrolls:
- 1QIsaa: complete
- 1QIsab: extant: verses 1‑12
- 4QIsab (4Q56): extant: verses 11‑12
- 4QIsac (4Q57): extant: verses 1‑3, 6‑8
- 4QIsad (4Q58): extant: verses 8‑12
Ancient translations in Koine Greek:
The Talmud refers occasionally to Isaiah 53:
- The first book of the Talmud—Berachot 5a applies Isaiah 53 to the people of Israel and those who study Torah—"If the Holy One, blessed be He, is pleased with Israel or man, He crushes him with painful sufferings. For it is said: And the Lord was pleased with [him, hence] He crushed him by disease (Isa. 53:10). Now, you might think that this is so even if he did not accept them with love. Therefore it is said: "To see if his soul would offer itself in restitution" (Isa. 53:10). Even as the trespass-offering must be brought by consent, so also the sufferings must be endured with consent. And if he did accept them, what is his reward? "He will see his seed, prolong his days" (Isa. 53:10). And more than that, his knowledge [of the Torah] will endure with him. For it is said: "The purpose of the Lord will prosper in his hand" (Isa. 53:10). It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai says: The Holy One, blessed be He, gave Israel three precious gifts, and all of them were given only through sufferings.. These are: The Torah, the Land of Israel and the World To Come."
- Sotah 14a in the Babylonian Talmud associates Isaiah 53:12 to Moses and Shekalim 5:1 in the Jerusalem Talmud to Rabbi Akiva, because they were amongst the transgressors and both stood up for the nation of Israel.
- Sanhedrin 98b in the Babylonian Talmud speculates rather ironically about the undisclosed name of the unrevealed Jewish Messiah to come, so as to say it could be anyone: leper of the school (a hint on rabbinical disciples cast out of their seminary/school) based on Isaiah 53:4, Rabbi Nachman based on Jeremiah 30:21, Shiloh based on Genesis 49:10, Yinon based on Psalm 72:17, Rabbi Hanina reckons it is him, based on Jeremiah 16:13, Menachem ben Hizkija based on Lamentations 1:16.
- Jerusalem Talmud Shekalim 5:1 applies Isaiah 53:12 to Rabbi Akiva
Both the Talmud and Midrash apply Is 53 to the sick:
- Talmud—Berachoth 57b
Six things are a good sign for a sick person, namely, sneezing, perspiration, open bowels, seminal emission, sleep and a dream. Sneezing, as it is written: His sneezings flash forth light.15 Perspiration, as it is written, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.16 Open bowels, as it is written: If lie that is bent down hasteneth to be loosed, he shall not go down dying to the pit.17 Seminal emission, as it is written: Seeing seed, he will prolong his days.18 Sleep, as it is written: I should have slept, then should I have been at rest.19 A dream, as it is written: Thou didst cause me to dream and make me to live.20 (15) Job XLI, 10. (16) Gen. III, 19. (17) Isa. LI, 14. E.V. "He that is bent down shall speedily, etc." (18) Isa. LIII, 10. (19) Job. III, 13. (20) Isa. XXXVIII, 16. V. p. 335, n. 10.
Midrash Rabbah—Genesis XX:10 five things which are a favourable omen for an invalid, viz.: sneezing, perspiring, sleep, a dream, and semen. Sneezing, as it is written, His sneezings flash forth light (Job XLI, 10); sweat: In the Sweat of Thy Face Shalt Thou Eat Bread3; sleep: I had slept: then it were well with me (Job III, 13)4; a dream: Wherefore make me dream [E.V. 'recover Thou me'] and make me live (Isa. XXXVIII, 16); semen: He shall see seed [i.e. semen], and prolong his days (Isa. LIII,10)
The midrashic method of biblical exegesis, is "... going more deeply than the mere literal sense, attempts to penetrate into the spirit of the Scriptures, to examine the text from all sides, and thereby to derive interpretations which are not immediately obvious":
- The exegetical Midrash Ruth Rabbah, which expounds the Book of Ruth chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and, sometimes, word by word, states that the Messiah is coming to descend from Ruth through King David. Ruth Rabbah relates to events within the narrative reality of the Book of Ruth (Ruth 1) as allegorical allusions to the future of her descendants. Ruth's modesty, her great beauty, her uprightness narrate the positive picture of her as a righteous gentile woman in the bible. Her acts of kindness toward Naomi (Ruth Rabbah 2:14) was associated with Isaiah 53:5. In Ruth Rabbah 2:14, Rabbi Ze'ira's classic midrashic statement: "R. Zei'ra said: This scroll [of Ruth] tells us nothing either of cleanliness or of uncleanliness, either of prohibition or permission. For what purpose then was it written? To teach how great is the reward of those who do deeds of kindness...."
- Numbers Rabbah 13:2 applies Is 53:12 to Israel in exile—"There can be almost no doubt that the redactor of Numbers Rabbah had before him an ancient Midrash on Numbers, and perhaps on other books as well, which has not come down to us and which we do not know of today. From the nature of the passages that were incorporated from this work and that remain in the Numbers Rabbah that we have today, one may conclude that this Midrash belonged to the group of Tanhuma-style Midrashim."
- The Midrash Rabba on Deuteronomy says, "The Israelites poured out their soul to die in the captivity, as it is said, 'Because he poured out his soul to die.' (Isaiah 53:12)"
- Eliyahu Rabbah, which scholars agree was written in the end of the tenth century, has 3 citations referenced to Isaiah 53 in the Midrash known as Tana Devei Eliyahu, applying them to the righteous of Israel (chapters 6, 13, 27).
- Another Midrash, Aleph Beitot (final chapter) quotes Isaiah 53 in reference to the nation of Israel as a whole.
- Midrash Psalms 94:2 applies Isaiah 53:10 to the righteous in general (also in other earlier writings—Mechilta De Rabbi Ishmael)
Midrash Rabbah—Exodus XIX:6 In this world, when Israel ate the paschal lamb in Egypt, they did so in haste, as it is said: And thus shall ye eat it, etc. (Ex. XII, 11), For in haste didst thou come forth out of the land of Egypt (Deut. XVI, 3), but in the Messianic era, we are told: For ye shall not go out in haste, neither shall ye go by flight (Isa. LII, 12).
Midrash Rabbah—Numbers XIII:2 Israel exposed (he'eru) their souls to death in exile-as you read, Because he bared (he'era) his soul unto death (Isa. LIII, 12)- and busied themselves with the Torah which is sweeter than honey, the Holy One, blessed be He, will therefore in the hereafter give them to drink of the wine that is preserved in its grapes since the six days of Creation, and will let them bathe in rivers of milk.
Midrash Rabbah—Ruth V:6 6. And Boaz said unto her at meal time: come hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers; and they reached her parched corn, and she did eat and was satisfied and left thereof (II, 14). R. Jonathan interpreted this verse in six ways. The first refers it to David.... The fifth interpretation makes it refer to the Messiah. Come hither: approach to royal state. And eat of the bread refers to the bread of royalty; And dip thy morsel in the vinegar refers to his sufferings, as it is said, But he was wounded because of our transgressions (Isa. LIII, 5).
- 52:13–14 is applied to the Angel Metatron in Zohar Volume I 182a.
- 53:5 is applied to Elijah the prophet in Zohar Volume II 115b.
- 53:5 is applied to Moshiach ben Yosef in Zohar Volume III 276b.
- 52:13 is applied to Moshe in Zohar Volume III page 153b.
- 52:13, 53:2,5 is applied to Moshe in Zohar Volume III 280a.
- 53:1 is applied to Moshe in Tekunei HaZohar page 43a.
- 53:5 is applied to Moshe in Tekunei HaZohar page 54b and 112a.
- 53:5,7 is applied to Moshe in Zohar Volume III 125b.
- 53:5,6,7 is applied to Moshe in Zohar Volume III 282b.
- 53:7 is applied to Moshe in Zohar Volume I 187a.
- 53:10 is applied to Moshe in Zohar Volume II 29b.
- 52:12 is applied to the Righteous of Israel in Zohar Chadash page 15a
- 52:13 is applied to the Righteous of Israel in Zohar Volume I 181a.
- 53:5 is applied to the Righteous of Israel in Zohar Volume III 218a, 231a, 247b
- 53:10 is applied to the Righteous of Israel in Zohar Volume I 140a; Volume II 244b; Volume III 57b
- Soncino Zohar, Genesis/Bereshit, Section 1, Page 140a
"The Lord trieth the righteous" (Ps. XI, 5). For what reason? Said R. Simeon: "Because when God finds delight in the righteous, He brings upon them sufferings, as it is written: 'Yet it pleased the Lord to crush him by disease'" (Is. LIII, 10), as explained elsewhere. God finds delight in the soul but not in the body, as the soul resembles the supernal soul, whereas the body is not worthy to be allied to the supernal essences, although the image of the body is part of the supernal symbolism.
- Soncino Zohar, Genesis/Bereshit, Section 1, Page 140b
Observe that when God takes delight in the soul of a man, He afflicts the body in order that the soul may gain full freedom. For so long as the soul is together with the body it cannot exercise its full powers, but only when the body is broken and crushed. Again, "He trieth the righteous", so as to make them firm like "a tried stone", the "costly corner-stone" mentioned by the prophet (Is. XXVIII, 16).
- Soncino Zohar, Genesis/Bereshit, Section 1, Page 181a
R. Simeon further discoursed on the text: Behold, My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Is. LII, 13). "Happy is the portion of the righteous", he said, "to whom the Holy One reveals the ways of the Torah that they may walk in them."
- Soncino Zohar, Genesis/Bereshit, Section 1, Page 187a
Observe the Scriptural text: "And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah" (Gen. xxv, 1). Herein is an allusion to the soul which after death comes to earth to be built up as before. Observe that of the body it is written: "And it pleased the Lord to crush him by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, that he might see his seed, and prolong his days, and that the purpose of the Lord might prosper by his hand." (Is. LIII, 10). That is to say, if the soul desires to be rehabilitated then he must see seed, for the soul hovers round about and is ready to enter the seed of procreation, and thus "he will prolong his days, and the purpose of the Lord", namely the Torah, "will prosper in his hand". For although a man labours in the Torah day and night, yet if his source remains fruitless, he will find no place by which to enter within the Heavenly curtain.
- Soncino Zohar, Exodus/Shemot, Section 2, Page 29b
R. Simeon quoted here the verse: "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, because they were not" (Jer. XXXI, I5). 'The Community of Israel is called "Rachel", as it says, "As a sheep (rahel) before her shearers is dumb" (Isa. LIII, 7). Why dumb? Because when other nations rule over her the voice departs from her and she becomes dumb. "Ramah"
- Soncino Zohar, Exodus/Shemot, Section 2, Page 212a
When the Messiah hears of the great suffering of Israel in their dispersion, and of the wicked amongst them who seek not to know their Master, he weeps aloud on account of those wicked ones amongst them, as it is written: "But he was wounded because of our transgression, he was crushed because of our iniquities" (Isa. LIII, 5). The souls then return to their place. The Messiah, on his part, enters a certain Hall in the Garden of Eden, called the Hall of the Afflicted. There he calls for all the diseases and pains and sufferings of Israel, bidding them settle on himself, which they do. And were it not that he thus eases the burden from Israel, taking it on himself, no one could endure the sufferings meted out to Israel in expiation on account of their neglect of the Torah. So Scripture says; "Surely our diseases he did bear," etc. (Isa. LIII, 4). A similar function was performed by R. Eleazar here on earth. For, indeed, beyond number are the chastisements awaiting every man daily for the neglect of the Torah, all of which descended into the world at the time when the Torah was given. As long as Israel were in the Holy Land, by means of the Temple service and sacrifices they averted all evil diseases and afflictions from the world. Now it is the Messiah who is the means of averting them from mankind until the time when a man quits this world and receives his punishment, as already said. When a man's sins are so numerous that he has to pass through the nethermost compartments of Gehinnom in order to receive heavier punishment corresponding to the contamination of his soul, a more intense fire is kindled in order to consume that contamination. The destroying angels make use for this purpose of fiery rods, so as to expel that contamination. Woe to the soul that is subjected to such punishment! Happy are those who guard the precepts of the Torah!
- Soncino Zohar, Leviticus/Vayikra, Section 3, Page 57b
"It has been taught in the name of R. Jose that on this day of Atonement it has been instituted that this portion should be read to atone for Israel in captivity. Hence we learn that if the chastisements of the Lord come upon a man, they are an atonement for his sins, and whoever sorrows for the sufferings of the righteous obtains pardon for his sins. Therefore on this day we read the portion commencing 'after the death of the two sons of Aaron', that the people may hear and lament the loss of the righteous and obtain forgiveness for their sins. For whenever a man so laments and sheds tears for them, God proclaims of him, 'thine iniquity is taken away and thy sin purged' (Isa. Vl, 7). Also he may be assured that his sons will not die in his lifetime, and of him it is written, 'he shall see seed, he shall prolong days (Isa. LIII, 19).'"
- Soncino Zohar, Numbers/Bamidbar, Section 3, Page 218a
When God desires to give healing to the world He smites one righteous man among them with disease and suffering, and through him gives healing to all, as it is written, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities... and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa. LIII, 5)
- Soncino Zohar, Exodus/Shemot, Section 2, Page 16b
Why is Israel subjected to all nations? In order that the world may be preserved through them.
- Kuzari also identifies Isaiah 53 as the nation of Israel.
- Chovot ha-Levavot also identifies Isaiah 53 as the nation of Israel.
- The Mahari Kara (R' Yosef Kara, a contemporary of Rashi 11th century) on Isaiah Isaiah 52:13: Quote: "Behold My servant shall prosper: Israel My servant shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. And [according to] the teachings of our Rabbis: He shall be more exalted than Abraham, as it is written: "I have raised my hand toward the Lord...." [Gen 14:22]. He shall be more lifted up than Moses, as it is written: "... as the nurse lifts up the suckling...." And he [Israel] shall be higher than the ministering angels, as it is written: "And they had backs, and they were very high...." [Ezek 1:18].
One of the first claims in the New Testament that Isaiah 53 is a prophecy of Jesus comes from the Book of Acts, in which its author (who is also the author of Luke's Gospel), describes a scene in which God commands Philip the Evangelist to approach an Ethiopian eunuch who is sitting in a chariot, reading aloud to himself from the Book of Isaiah. The eunuch comments that he does not understand what he is reading and Philip explains to him the teachings of Jesus.
And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
This has been the standard Christian interpretation of the passage since Apostolic times.
But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
"Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses."
The earliest known example of a Jew and a Christian debating the meaning of Isaiah 53 is the example from 248 cited by Origen. In Christian church father Origen's Contra Celsus, written in 248, he writes of Isaiah 53:
- Now I remember that, on one occasion, at a disputation held with certain Jews, who were reckoned wise men, I quoted these prophecies; to which my Jewish opponent replied, that these predictions bore reference to the whole people, regarded as one individual, and as being in a state of dispersion and suffering, in order that many proselytes might be gained, on account of the dispersion of the Jews among numerous heathen nations.
The discourse between Origen and his Jewish counterpart does not seem to have had any consequences for either party. This was not the case for the majority of centuries that have passed since that time. In Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:24, written in the 700s, a debate about a much less controversial topic results in the arrest of the Jew engaging in the debate.
In 1263 at the Disputation of Barcelona, Nahmanides expressed the Jewish viewpoint of Isaiah 53 and other matters regarding Christian belief about Jesus's role in Hebrew Scripture. The disputation was awarded in his favor by James I of Aragon, and as a result the Dominican Order compelled him to flee from Spain for the remainder of his life. Passages of Talmud were also censored. In a number of other disputations, debate about this passage resulted in forced conversions, deportations, and the burning of Jewish religious texts.
The use of Isaiah 53 in debates between Jews and Christians still often occurs in the context of Christian missionary work among Jews, and the topic is a source of frequent discussion that is often repetitive and heated. Some devout Christians view the use of the Christian interpretation of Isaiah 53 in targeted conversion of Jews as a special act of Christian love and a fulfillment of Jesus Christ's teaching of the Great Commission. The unchanged common view among many Jews today is that Jews are threatened by evangelical Christian organizations which actively target Jews for conversion.
Jewish counter-missionary work
International Jewish counter-missionary organizations, like Outreach Judaism, founded by Rabbi Tovia Singer, or Jews for Judaism, respond directly to the issues raised by missionaries and cults, by exploring Judaism in contradistinction to Christianity and establishing lasting connections between Jewish families and Judaism.
- Arrest of Jesus
- Burial of Jesus
- Christian messianic prophecies
- Christianity and Judaism
- Crucifixion of Jesus
- Holy week
- Jewish messianism
- Messianic prophecies of Jesus
- New Covenant, Replacement theology
- Resurrection of Jesus
- Trial of Jesus
- Related Bible parts: Psalm 22, Isaiah 42, Isaiah 49, Isaiah 50, Isaiah 52, Matthew 8, Matthew 27, Mark 14, Luke 23, Luke 24, Acts 8, Romans 5, 1 Peter 2
Notes and references
- Isaiah 53:8
- Bernd Janowski; Peter Stuhlmacher (2004). The Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 in Jewish and Christian Sources. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-8028-0845-5.
- Coogan, Michael D. (2008). "The Return from Exile". A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in Its Context. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199740291.
- Timothy A. J. Jull; Douglas J. Donahue; Magen Broshi; Emanuel Tov (1995). "Radiocarbon Dating of Scrolls and Linen Fragments from the Judean Desert". Radiocarbon. 37 (1): 14. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- Goldschmidt, nach der ersten zensurfreien Ausg. unter Berücksichtigung der neueren Ausg. und handschriftlichen Materials ins Dt. übers. von Lazarus (2007). Der babylonische Talmud Bd. VI (Limitierte Sonderausg. nach dem Nachdr. 1996 ed.). Frankfurt, M.: Jüdischer Verl. im Suhrkamp-Verl. p. 56. ISBN 3633542000.
- "Midrash (from the root, "to study", "to investigate")". 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
- "Ruth Rabbah". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
- Meir, Tamar. "Ruth: Midrash and Aggadah". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
- Mack, Dr. Hananel. "Parashat Bamidbar 5760/2000". Bar-Ilan University's Parashat Hashavua Study Center. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- "Lies Damned Lies and What the Missionaries Claim the Rabbis say part 2". Judaism's Answer. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- "Tanna debe Eliyahu". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- Contra Brown—Answering Dr. Brown's Objections to Judaism. Rabbi Yisroel Chaim Blumenthal refutes untenable assertions of Missionary Dr. Michael Brown on Judaism
- Scholem, Gershom; Melila Hellner-Eshed (2007). "Zohar". In Michael Berenbaum; Fred Skolnik. Encyclopaedia Judaica. 21 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. pp. 647–664.. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale.
- Plummer, Alfred, A critical and exegetical commentary on the Gospel according to S. Luke , Continuum International Publishing Group, 1999, p. xi: quote: "[common authorship of Luke-Acts] is so generally admitted by critics of all schools, that not much time need be spent in discussing it."
- Acts 8:34–35
- Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Isaiah 53, accessed 12 June 2016
- Origen, Contra Celsum, Book 1.Chapter 55
- Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:24 translated by Christopher P. Benton "In Search of Kohelet" p 13
- "Disputations". JewishEncyclopedia. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- Middleton-Kaplan, Richard (2014). "The Myth of Jewish Passivity". In Henry, Patrick. Jewish Resistance Against the Nazis. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press. pp. 3–4. ISBN 9780813225890.
- "3) Mistranslated Verses "Referring" to Jesus; C. Suffering Servant". Why Don't Jews Believe In Jesus?. SimpleToRemember.com - Judaism Online. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- Isaiah 53: Original Hebrew with Parallel English
- Isaiah 53: The Jewish Perspective
- Y'shayahu's "Suffering Servant" (Y'shayahu, ch. 53 by Professor Mordochai ben Tziyyon, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel (retired)
- A complete analysis of Isaiah 53 by Rabbi Moshe Shulman
- Targum on Isaiah 53 by Rabbi Moshe Shulman
- Zohar on Isaiah 53 by Rabbi Moshe Shulman
- Haftorah and Isaiah 53 by Rabbi Moshe Shulman
- Mysteries of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and Isaiah 53 by Rabbi Moshe Shulman
- Moshe Ibn Crispin and Isaiah 53 by Rabbi Moshe Shulman
- Suffering Servant (24 Articles) from Jews for Judaism
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Servant of God
- A Jewish refutation of Christian interpretation