How Can Jesus not Be Seen in Isaiah 53?
I would like to have an explanation about the Jewish difficulty to see Jesus as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.
- Anonymous1 decade agoFavourite answer
When Jesus was here, and suffered through the ordeal of crucifixion we must remember he was not alone. Thousands of Jews like him had the very same destiny. Now, why Paul had to choose him among all the other Jews crucified by the Romans, is the issue worthy studying.
Isaiah 53 in the originals starts in Isaiah 52:13. Then, we can see that the Prophet is talking about Israel, the Servant of the Lord. (Isa. 41:8-10) Is there a people more spurned and avoided by man than the Jews? The people whom men hide their faces from, or expel them from their countries, or kill them by the millions? Isa. 53:3; Psalms 44:14,15)
And so on and on, if you read and, impartially compare Isaiah 53 with Psalm 44, you will see that the Servant-People,
not he Servant-individual, is the theme the Prophet is trying to convey. To many of the Servant of the Lord, a grave was assigned in exile in the midst of the Gentiles; a burial place with evildoers. (Isa. 53:9) But the eternal People, or Suffering Servant, will always see his descendants in a long life, so that the will of the Lord will be accomplished through him, as we have in Isaiah 53:10.
- 1 decade ago
We've answered this for you a couple times I think?
The wording in the Torah is different & it stops making sense to see Jesus in it, if you use the original Torah, as several have explained. You're using a modified text then asking how we can not see clearly with the original.
Even if you could find Jesus in Jewish texts -- which you **can not** in any way....the beliefs developed about him would then disqualify him as being the messiah.
1. The Jewish messiah, is supposed to be a human being like Moses, who accomplishes great things (presumably with God's help). A son of God goes against Jewish belief in one abstract God & in the biblical messiah picture.
2. Judaism believes God gave humans free will (not original sin) & we are each responsible for our own actions. He gave us guidance on teshuva (repentance - which never required a blood sacrifice.) His first words to us were about a lack of need for human sacrifice. So, a savior thru sacrifice is **not** needed.
You have to twist the very essense of Judaism around to get to Christianity in which the death of a person results in uplifting & salvation. It works for Christians. But can you respect Jews enough, to be curious about how we work...rather than studying us from your own belief views?
So I'll answer with a counter question. Why do you have difficulty respecting us for having a great spirituality of our own? I hope your answer follows in Jesus's footsteps -- that you should. To think you have the only right way is a very Christian idea. It also limits insights gained from genuinely seeing others & their ideas. I hope that doesn't sound insulting, but opens your mind up to a new way to look at us.
Basically to see what we see, you need to use
1. Our texts -- which are the originals
2. Our way of reading in context -- never as single statements
3. Our study method where the students are expected to ask questions & every element of the religion is questioned & reassessed, so that you never have anyone authoriatively telling you how to interpret something. You can always see that there were several interpretations (almost always including one that seems right to you)...with detailed assessment of each one. So, flat interpretations of a text never make sense in our world. It does add tons of depth plus wisdoms found.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Because we read it in Hebrew, as it was originally written. And we also understand the rest of the history of the time. Nobody tells us to "just have faith" when we ask a question, they tell us to study until we find the answers ourselves, or to discuss until we reach an answer. In Christianity, it has for too long been considered a sin to question the authority.
And before you flame me for saying that, look into the history of the Inquisitions and witchcraft. Ask a question - be branded as a witch or heretic. Hmmm.
And, to hasse john...why would you bring up Joshua? doesn´t make much sense...aren't you trying to speak of Jesus? Might be a good idea to get the Hebrew right...of course, if you WANT to prove my point...
- 1 decade ago
Perhaps the myths of Jesus were written to portray Isaiah 53.
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- 4 years ago
answer: no, Isaiah 52-54 is clearly talking about Israel, her people and prophets. And there are NO prophecies about piercings and sacrificed servants. The well-worn claim frequently advanced by Christian apologists which argues that the noted Jewish commentator Rashi (1040 CE - 1105) was the first to identify the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 with the nation of Israel is inaccurate and misleading. In fact, Origen, a prominent and influential church father, conceded in the year 248 CE -- many centuries before Rashi was born -- that the consensus among the Jews in his time was that Isaiah 53 “bore reference to the whole [Jewish] 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.”3 The broad consensus among Jewish, and even some Christian commentators, that the “servant” in Isaiah 52-53 refers to the nation of Israel is understandable. Isaiah 53, which is the fourth of four renowned Servant Songs, is umbilically connected to its preceding chapters. The “servant” in each of the three previous Servant Songs is plainly and repeatedly identified as the nation of Israel. Isaiah 41:8-9 But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, "You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off." Isaiah 44:1 But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! Isaiah 44:21 Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. ** Zechariah 12:10 − The Hebrew Tanakh: “and they shall look upon me whom they have stabbed/ thrust through [with swords”) The King James Version of Zechariah changes one word [stabbed] to “pierced.” BUT John 19:37 (New Testament) misquotes Zechariah to change the entire meaning by saying, “They shall look on him (instead of ME) whom they pierced.”
- 1 decade ago
If this is a reference to Jesus could you explain these?
10 Yet 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, prolong his days,
Did Jesus have a disease?
Did he have children (seed)?
Is dying at 33 having prolonged days?
Because that is all referring to your same "Suffering Servant"Source(s): http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et1053.htm
- plushy_bearLv 71 decade ago
I can only echo Lady Suri and Mama Pajama. The Tanakh does not exist in a vacuum. You have to read everything in context for it to make sense.
An example I like to use with my former students deals with a concept called polymorphism. Writing this word in all lower case, pronounce "reading".
Most people would pronounce it "Reeding", but it can also be pronounced "Redding". The context (I am reading a book vs. I am going to go shopping in reading) determines the pronounciation.
Here too, we see that to read a 'chapter' by itself does not fully explain what's going on.
- Hera Sent MeLv 61 decade ago
It makes more sense to say the Jesus myth was written to seem to fulfill "Old Testament" prophecies.
Why do all the Star Wars movies seem to reference one another? Could it be Volume IX is prophesied in Volume I?Source(s): You tell him, m'lady.
- kismetLv 71 decade ago
CLAIM: The oldest Jewish commentary on Isaiah, the Targum(translation) Jonathan teaches that the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 is the Messiah.
In almost every missionary book or article that brings Rabbinic sources to try and prove their arguments, the Targum of Yonason Ben Uzziel is mentioned as a ‘proof’ that the ancient Rabbis believed that the suffering servant ofIsaiah 53 was the Moshiach Ben Dovid, the King Messiah. Most sources just quote a single verse from it. Here is an example from an Internet article by Victor Buksbazen:
‘From the earliest days, Isaiah 53 was interpreted by Jews as applying to the Messiah. Thus, Jonathan ben Uziel of the first century, in his Targum (an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible) paraphrases Isaiah 53: "My servant, the Messiah, will be great, who was bruised for our sins."’
It should be noted that the author has fabricated part of this passage. The words: “who was bruised for our sins" do not appear in the original Targum in any place as we can see from the translation that will be discussed in detail below.
There are few sources that deal with the Targum in full. Those that do, while they claim that this Targum is a support for the idea that Isaiah 53’s suffering servant is the Messiah, they will at the same time attack the author of the Targum for ‘completely twisting’ the text, or making a ’virtual rewrite’. If the issue were not so serious, it would be laughable.
Here are some quotes from Dr. Michael Brown’s latest work that shows what I mean:
“So, for example the Targum interprets the passage with reference to the Messiah – as warring, victorious king, even to the point of completely twisting the meaning of key verses”
“Targum Jonathan interprets Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (which for simplicity in this discussion, we will simply call Isaiah 53) with reference to the Messiah, despite the fact that the Targum virtually rewrites the entire passage, changing the verses that speak clearly of the servant’s sufferings so that they speak instead of the suffering of the nations.”
It should be noted that the second quote above has an error. The suffering (as we shall see) is not “of the nations” but of a single nation. It is the suffering of the Jewish people in exile. In another of his works we find:
“Note that the Targum Jonathan, the Targum to the prophetic books, applied this section directly to the Messiah (“my servant the Messiah”) but changed the text in a number of key points, thereby effectively removing all references to the Messiah’s suffering. How odd it is that the Targum recognized that the servant of the Lord spoken of in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 was actually the Messiah – a fundamental position of the New Testament – and yet found it necessary to radically alter the meaning of the text to make it into a statement of the Messiah’s military prowess and his victory over the nations. It would have been more logical to attempt to argue that the text did not refer to the Messiah at all!” 
Why do they have to go through such contortions? Why not just accept that the Targum has another opinion? Why not just admit that the Targum does not help their cause? The reason is simple. The traditional church believed in a theology of Replacement of Israel by the church. This was not a good tactic to convince Jews to willingly convert. It failed for hundreds of years. Over the last few decades, the missionaries ‘got it.’ The overwhelming majority of Jews don’t want to stop being Jews. So the missionaries needed to say that the church does NOT replace the Jewish people.
This creates a problem. Historical Christianity and Historical Judaism are NOT the same, or even similar on many fundamental theological points. They need to show that the Jews weren’t so wrong, and that we can find ‘roots’ for Christianity in ancient Judaism. If they are there, then they can claim the Rabbis just made a wrong turn along the way.
But for that to work, there still needs to be some leftover traces of the ‘true’ theology by the Rabbis, in addition to their new mistakes. The further back, the closer to the truth. Rashi, Maimonides and all the later Rabbis got rid of the ancient beliefs. So the Targum and other sources have to have ‘hints’ showing that the ancient Jews, before the Rabbis ruined it, had beliefs that were consistent with Christianity. Whether it is with regards to Isaiah 53, or the Unity of G-d, or many of the other critical theological issues. Rabbinic works need to be examined to find indicators of the existence of this pre-Rabbinic ‘Biblical’ Judaism that believed similarly to the early Christians. THEN, they can claim that someone of Jewish background can become a Christian, and still be a Jew, since he has not abandoned the ancient Jewish beliefs. It was the RABBIS who have abandoned the ancient Jewish beliefs.
This explains the anger and exasperation that we see in the words of Dr. Brown and others when they discuss the full text of the Targum. We shall see that, in fact, the theology that comes out of the Targum is EXACTLY what later Rabbis, like Rashi, and Maimonides would write with regards to the Messiah and the subject of Isaiah 53.
The first issue we need to examine is what type of a commentary this Targum is. We shall see that this is a key issue to understanding the Targum, and also Jewish eschatology. Targum literal means ‘translation’, but not all Targums are the same. In my article “What is Midrash” I discuss the nature and content of Midrashic commentary. There I brought some sources that explain this method of interpretation. Dr. Michael Brown in his work ‘Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus’ states:
“Talmudic citations are not meant to be precise interpretations of the biblical text but are often based on free association and wordplays.”
In his “Introduction to the Talmud” by Moses Mielziner he states:
“Where the Midrash does not concern legal enactments and provisions, but merely inquires into the meaning and significance of the laws or where it only uses the words of Scripture as a vehicle to convey a moral teaching or a religious instruction and consolation, it is called a ‘Midrash Agadah’ Interpretation of the Agadah, homiletical interpretation.”
In essence a Midrash is NOT a translation or literal commentary, but a pedagogical style of teaching theological concepts that is not strictly dependant on the text it is using.
The well-known scholarly translation of the Targumic Messianic texts, by Samson H. Levey, ‘The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation; The Messianic Exegesis of the Targum” says with regards to the Targum on Isaiah 53:
“This is an excellent example of Targumic paraphrase at its best. It is not a translation, nor is it loose meaningless commentary, but a reworking of the text to yield what the Targumist desires it to give forth.”
This is almost exactly what appears in the quote from Mielziner above. From this we see that the Targum is a Midrashic commentary, and not a literal one. The Targum is not strictly telling us what the verses say, but what Judaism teaches. It is painting for us a picture of the end-times and Jewish eschatology.
This is something that the more knowledgeable missionaries KNOW, even if they are reluctant to admit it in a clear way in their books. This actually came up in an email dialogue with Dr. Michael Brown that involved a number of subjects including the Targum to Isaiah 53. In an email sent to me Sunday, October 20, 2002 he responded to some remarks I made with regards to this issue. I had made the following comment about the Targum on Isaiah 53: “1. It is a Midrashic commentary and not a translation. It is conveying ideas and theology, not exegesis. “ To which he responded: ”I take for granted your point 1 on the Targum to Isaiah” That the Targum to Isaiah 53 is Midrashic and theology, and NOT a literal translation is not even an issue open to debate.
Now that we recognize that this is a Midrashic comment, we need to try and understand what the Targum is trying to teach us. In it we see a picture painted for us. It is of the end-times. (See my article “Who is Moshiach Ben Yosef” for some texts dealing with this period, especially the passage of Isaiah 11 which gives some background on the Targumic references to the Messiah.) The Christian missionary scholar Dr. Louis Goldberg in his pamphlet ‘A Jewish Christian response’ summarizes what appears in the Targum. He states that 'all the verses which relate to exaltation were applied to a (sic) personal Messiah, while the remainder of the passage relating to suffering was applied to the nation'. So the Targum is teaching us two points: The Messiah will be an exalted character, and the Jewish people suffered in exile. Sounds pretty much like what we find in traditional Jewish commentaries.
Let’s look at the Targum and compare it to a translation of the original passage. It will be easy to notice that this is not a translation at all. It is not a simple explanation of the verses. It is a Midrash, in the style we have just explored. The translation from the JPS is bold letters. The translation of the Targum is by Driver and Neubauer as that is the one that is usually quoted from by the missionaries.
52:13 Behold, My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.
52:13. Behold my servant Messiah shall prosper; he shall be high, and increase, and be exceeding strong:
52:14 According as many were appalled at thee—so marred was his visage unlike that of a man, and his form unlike that of the sons of men—
52:14. as the house of Israel looked to him during many days, because their countenance was darkened among the peoples, and their complexion beyond the sons of men,
52:15 So shall he startle many nations, kings shall shut the
- Christian SinnerLv 71 decade ago
I have already conversed with a Jew who thought that it was referring to the nation of Israel.
You know, I learned a lot about why they are so persuaded when I read about the Mishnah and the
Talmud. It seems that there was an oral tradition of them (the relationship between the two can be seen as complicated, along with there being more than one definition of 'Mishnah'), but it seems there was a need to make a commentary around the time of Jesus and the destruction of the temple. Think of that!
It would seem that they also thought to change a few things to guard against blasphemy, I wonder what kind of blasphemy they had to protect themselves from?
"The earliest labors of the Masoretes included standardizing division of the text into books, sections, paragraphs, verses, and clauses (probably in the chronological order here enumerated); the fixing of the orthography, pronunciation, and cantillation; the introduction or final adoption of the square characters with the five final letters (comp. Numbers and Numerals); some textual changes to guard against blasphemy and the like (though these changes may pre-date the Masoretes - see Tikkune Soferim); the enumeration of letters, words, verses, etc., and the substitution of some words for others in public reading.
They have these commentaries from about that time and depend on them to tell them what it all means. It's been that way and they will not allow anyone to tell them that they are wrong. I believe that the Jews of today are victims of those who would persuade them against Jesus being the Messiah.