Before we examine Isaiah 53 verse by verse some preliminary
issues must be considered . Isaiah 53 is only understood properly
when read in the context of the Jewish Bible as a whole .
Earlier on in the book of Isaiah, God had predicted exile and
calamity for the Jewish people. Chapter 53, however, occurs in the
midst of Isaiah's "Messages of Consolation", which tell of the
supposed restoration of Israel to a position of prominence and a
vindication of their status as God's "chosen people".
In chapter 52, for example, Israel is described as "oppressed
without cause" (v.4) and "taken away" (v.5), yet God promises a
brighter future ahead, one in which Israel will again prosper and be
redeemed in the sight of all the nations (v.1-3, 8-12).
Chapter 54 further elaborates upon the redemption which awaits
the nation of Israel. Speaking clearly of the Jewish people and
their status (even according to all Christian commentaries), chapter
54 ends as follows:
"`This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their
vindication is from Me,'declares the Lord."
In the original Hebrew texts, there are no chapter divisions, and
Jewish and Christian scholars agree that chapter 53 is actually a
continuation of the prophecy which begins at 52:13. Accordingly, our
analysis must begin at that verse.
52:13 "Behold, My servant will prosper."
Israel in the singular is called God's servant throughout Isaiah,
both explicitly (Isa. 41:8-9; 44:1-2; 45:4; 48:20; 49:3) and
implicitly (Isa. 42:19-20; 43:10) - Other references to Israel as
God's servant include Jer. 30:10 (note that in Jer. 30:17, the
servant Israel is regarded by the nations as an outcast, forsaken by
God , as in Isa. 53:4); Jer. 46:27-28; Ps. 136:22; Lk. 1:54.
52:15 - 53:1 "So shall he (the servant) startle many nations, the
kings will stand speechless; For that which had not been told them
they shall see and that which they had not heard shall they ponder.
Who would believe what we have heard?"
Quite clearly, the nations and their kings will be amazed at what
happens to the "servant of the L-rd," and they will say "who would
believe what we have heard?".
52:15 tells us explicitly that it is the nations of the world,
the gentiles, who are doing the talking in Isaiah 53.
53:1 "And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
In Isaiah, and throughout the Jewish Bible , God's "arm" refers
to the physical redemption of Israel from the oppression of other
nations (see, e.g., Isa. 52:8-12; Isa. 63:12; Deut. 4:34; Deut.
7:19; Ps. 44:3).
53:3 "Despised and rejected of men."
While this is clearly applicable to Israel (see Isa. 60:15; Ps.
44:13-14), it cannot be reconciled with the Christian Bible account
of Jesus, a man who was supposedly "praised by all" (Lk. 4:14-15)
and followed by multitudes (Matt. 4:25), who would later acclaim him
as a prophet upon his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matt.
Even as he was supposedly taken to be crucified, a multitude
bemoaned his fate (Lk. 23:27). Jesus had to be taken by stealth, as
the rulers feared "a riot of the people" (Mk. 14:1-2).
53:3 "A man of pains and acquainted with disease."
Israel's adversities are frequently likened to sickness - see,
e.g., Isa. 1:5-6; Jer. 10:19; Jer 30:12.
53:4 "Surely our diseases he carried and our pains he bore."
In Matt. 8:17, this is incorrectly translated, and said to be
literally (not spiritually) fulfilled in Jesus' healing of the sick,
a reading inconsistent with the Christian mistranslation of 53:4
53:4 "Yet we ourselves esteemed him stricken, smitten of God and
See Jer. 30:17 - of God's servant Israel (30:10), it is said by
the nations, "It is Zion; no one cares for her."
53:5 "But he was wounded FROM (NOTE: not FOR ) our
transgressions, he was crushed FROM (AGAIN: not FOR) our
Notice above how the Christians mistranslate and write "FOR our
transgressions " rather than " FROM our transgressions " .
Whereas the nations had thought the Servant (Israel) was
undergoing Divine retribution for its sins (53:4), they now realize
that the Servant's sufferings stemmed from their actions and
sinfulness. This theme is further developed throughout the Jewish
Bible - see, e.g., Jer. 50:7; Jer. 10:25. ALSO: Note that the
Davidic Messiah according to the Jews "shall not fail nor be crushed
till he has set the right in the earth" (Isa. 42:4).
53:7 "He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open
his mouth. Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep
that is silent before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth."
Note that in the prior chapter (Isa. 52), Israel is said to have
been oppressed and taken away without cause (52:4-5). A similar
theme is developed in Psalm 44, wherein King David speaks of
Israel's faithfulness even in the face of gentile oppression (44:17-
18) and describes Israel as "sheep to be slaughtered" in the midst
of the unfaithful gentile nations (44:22,11).
Regarding the claim that Jesus "did not open his mouth" when
faced with oppression and affliction, see Matt. 27:46, Jn. 18:23,
53:8 "From dominion and judgement he was taken away."
Note the correct translation of the Hebrew. The Christians are
forced to mistranslate, since - by Jesus'own testimony - he never
had any rights to rulership or judgement, at least not on the "first
coming." See, e.g., Jn. 3:17; Jn. 8:15; Jn. 12:47; Jn. 18:36.
53:8 "He was cut off out of the land of the living" and 53:9 "His
grave was assigned with wicked men."
See Ez. 37:11-14, wherein Israel is described as "cut off" and
God promises to open its "graves" and bring Israel back into its own
land. Other examples of figurative deaths include Ex. 10:17; 2 Sam.
9:8; 2 Sam. 16:9.
The Jewish Bible repeatedly says that if a descendant of David is
righteous, he will not be "cut off " (karet). For example, see
1Kings 2:4, 8:25, 9:4-5; Jeremiah 33:17; 2Chronicles 6:16, 7:18. But
if a descendant of David or priests are unrighteous, they will be
cut off (karet). For example, see Jeremiah 33:18; Joel 1:9.
Therefore, if this verse is speaking of Jesus being "cur off",
then that must mean he was unrighteous and was cut off from his
(supposed) royal heritage.
53:8 "From my peoples' sins, there was injury to THEM ."
Here the Prophet makes absolutely clear, to anyone familiar with
Biblical Hebrew, that the oppressed Servant is a collective Servant,
not a single individual.
The Hebrew word "lamoh", when used in the Jewish Bible , always
means "to them" never "to him" and may be found, for example, in
Psalm 99:7 - "They kept his testimonies, and the statute that He
gave to them."
53:9 "And with the rich in his DEATHS ."
Perhaps King James should have changed the original Hebrew, which
again makes clear that we are dealing with a collective Servant,
i.e., Israel, which will "come to life" when the exile ends (Ez.
37:14). "DEATHS" (Plural)
53:9 "He had done no violence."
See Matt. 21:12; Mk. 11:15-16; Lk. 19:45; Lk. 19:27; Matt. 10:34
and Lk. 12:51; then judge for yourself whether this passage is truly
consistent with the Christian Bible account of Jesus . Actualy this
denotes that the servant is suffering at the hands of the Gentile
nations without provocation .
53:10 "He shall see his seed."
The Hebrew word for "seed", used in this verse, always refers to
physical descendants in the Jewish Bible . See, e.g., Gen. 12:7;
Gen. 15:13; Gen. 46:6; Ex. 28:43. A different word, generally
translated as "sons", is used to refer to spiritual descendants (see
Deut. 14:1, e.g.).
53:10 "He will prolong his days."
Not only did Jesus die young, but how could the days be prolonged
of someone who is alleged to be God himself ?
53:11 "With his knowledge the righteous one, my Servant, will
cause many to be just."
Note again the correct translation based upon the Hebrew
translation : "the Servant will cause many to be just" he will
not.... "justify the many."
Israel is to serve as a "light to the nations" which will
ultimately lead the world to a knowledge of the one true God of
Abraham, this by example and preserving the word of God (Deut.
4:5-8; Zech. 8:23) .
53:12 "Therefore, I will divide a portion to him with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty."
If Jesus is God, does the idea of reward have any meaning? Is it
not rather the Jews -righteously suffered "FROM" the sins of the
world and yet remained faithful to God (Ps. 44) ? -
Dr.Raphael Patai a noted anthropologist,Biblical scholar and
author writes in his book " Messianic Text " page 1-2 that :
"... it also must be pointed out that several of these Biblical
Messianic prophecies are Messianic only in the light of these later
interpretations . At the time of their composition ,these passages
may have had other meanings .The important prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah
about the Suffering Servant for instance,are considered by Jewish as
well as Christian scholars as referring to the people of Israel as a
In Isaiah 49:3 the Suffering Servant is explicitly identified
with Israel . On this basis,as well as on the basis of certain other
features, all the so called "Servant Songs " ( Isa.42:1-4 , 49:1-6 ,
50:4-9 and 52:13 -53:12 ) have long been taken to speak of the
sufferings of exiled Israel as personified in "The Servant of the
Yet these same passages became IN TALMUDIC TIMES identified with
the Messianic theme , and so they have remained in Jewish FOLK
CONSCIOUSNESS throughout the ages . In fact it is quite probable
that the concept of the suffering Messiah,fully developed IN THE
TALMUD , THE MIDRASH , AND THE ZOHAR "
What Dr Raphael Patai is telling us is that Isaiah 53 at the time
of its composition had no Messianic connotations whatsoever .
The Jewish concept of a Davidic Messiah who would rule the world
from Jerusalem and suffer with and for the Jewish people (not for
the sins of the Jewish people or for humanity as a blood sacrifice )
began to develop during the Jewish exile in Babylon.
The Jews reminisced of the "better days " when they were a
powerful and sovereign nation under the rulership of David and
Solomon . The Idea of a Davidic Messiah developed due to the
suffering and frustration of a nation in exile who yearned for their
homeland and for a day their enemies would bow before them and serve
Christians have taken Jewish Messianic folklore completely out of
context by interpreting Midrashic homilies in a literal sense .The
result is a non-Semitic distortion of Jewish folklore woven with
Greek/Roman Mythos " Christianity " .
Now that most non-Jewish scholars concede that Isaiah 53 refers
to the Jewish people... Some Christians have tried to find support
for their beliefs in Rabbinic writings. Traditional Judaism NEVER
believed that there would be a supernatural virgin-born Messiah who
would be killed as an atonement for sin. If this had been the
traditional Jewish belief all along, it certainly came as a shock to
the Jewish followers of Jesus.
When the Nazerene told his followers that he must go to Jerusalem
to suffer...Peter protests, "GOD forbid it lord, this shall never
happen to you." (Mat. 16:22) Peter didn't joyfully exclaim: Praise
GOD, you are the suffering servant of Isaiah 53! The Disciples never
knew that the Messiah was supposed to suffer - (Mat. 17:23, Lk.
18:34, Jn. 20:9)
Jesus' enemies, such as Herod (Mat. 2) certainly didn't think
that the Messiah was supposed to be killed - otherwise why help his
cause by trying to kill him!?
In reality, the Jewish people expected the Messiah to rule as
king over a restored Israel in an age of universal peace and belief.
( Jer. 23:5- 6, Isaiah 11:1-9, 2:1-4, Ezekiel 37:21- 28...) This
had always been the Jewish understanding of Messiah, and Isaiah 53
was understood as referring to the Jewish people all along. It's not
an idea invented by Rashi in the Middle Ages.
The church father Origen reports that this was the Jewish
understanding in his time, hundreds of years before Rashi. (Contra
Celsum) Actually, there are ancient sources that have explicit
reference to a supernatural, virgin-born savior, who dies by murder
to achieve salvation for believers who can experience him by eating
of his flesh...You can read all about it in the mythologies of
Mithra, Osiris, Krishna, Tammuz, Adonis, Dionysus, Bacchus, Isis,
Those Christians who desperately ransacked the Talmud to find
support for their preconceived ideas are not students of the Talmud
with any interest in the actual teachings of Rabbinic Judaism. They
merely use the Talmud like a drunk uses a lamp post - not for
illumination, but for support.
Most Christians who read the Talmud are not really in the
position to know what it means (although some well educated honest
Christian scholars do) much as they would claim that a non-Christian
can't really understand the New Testament. (I Cor. 1:18). Some have
the audacity to say Christians know Tanach(Jewish Bible) better than
the Jews ( comical to say the least).
Most of these Christian Talmudists don't even own a Talmud much
less read it themselves . They rather get their information from
collections of secondary sources put together by other Christian
When these collections are checked, the Talmudic passages are
frequently incorrectly cited, usually quoted out of context, and
occasionally completely manufactured.
Did the Rabbis ever notice that there are two different pictures
of the Messiah in the Bible? Did they resolve this tension by
proposing a theory of 2 Messiahs, a Messiah son of David and a
Messiah son of Joseph? That depends on whether you read what the
Talmud actually teaches, or accept the propaganda of the so
R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written,
And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven;
whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto
thee...] lowly, and riding upon an ass! - If they are meritorious,
[he will come] with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding
upon an ass. - Sanhedrin 98A
The minor figure of a Messiah son of Joseph has nothing to do
with how Talmudic sages perceived contradictory passages in the
Bible. He does figure into Rabbinic Apocalyptic-Midrashic
Ask a "Christian-Talmudist" to explain the difference between "PSHAT"
Ask a "Christian-Talmudist" about why the Talmud applies Isaiah
53 to Moses, any pious person who suffers, and sick men who have had
an ejaculation (he will see his seed, he will prolong his days...)
Ask a "Christian-Talmudist" why most non-Jewish Biblical
scholars, (many of them Christian) accept the real traditional
Jewish understanding of Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:24-27 , and Isaiah 7:14;
without having a "Jewish" ax to grind. They have more in common with
Rabbi Akiba, Rashi, and Rambam than Oral Roberts and Martin Luther.
If you would like to learn the Jewish perspective on the Issues
dont go to your Christian Bookstore or rely on the 700 Club and the
"Zola Levite Show " for your Information .