Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

Who is the suffering servant in Isaiah 53?

I've heard people say that it's Israel, but that doesn't seem right to me. Any other interpretations?

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    What you've "heard"is correct. The suffering servant is indeed Israel, the Jewish people collectively.

    The entire Hebrew Bible is about the relationship between God and the people Israel.


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  • 4 years ago

    Thinking Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus is a common mistake. Chapters 40-55 of Isaiah were written by Second Isaiah i.e. after southern kingdom was destroyed in 586 BCE and the surviving Israelites had been taken into captivity. Like all the prophets, he was writing for his own time, not future generations. He was trying to explain to the nation of Israel why they suffered and why they should yet have hope. Here's why that interpretation is correct: 1) There is no use of the word “messiah” in the passage at all. Moreover, the Jewish idea of a messiah was not someone who suffered, but rather a mighty leader. Therefore it is clear that the “servant” who has suffered is not meant to be any type of messiah. 2) The servant is crushed, the opposite of stretched or crucified, which is what happened to Jesus. 3) Most fundamentally, the author specifically identifies the “servant” as the nation of Israel in 41:8 and 49:3. The sufferings of the servant are said to be in the past, not in the future. This is consistent with the timing of the writing, i.e. after the destruction of the nation of Israel has occurred and the captivity is underway. The suffering of Jesus, by contrast, occurs in the future.

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  • 1 decade ago

    There are two portraits of the Messiah in the Old Testament.

    One is a suffering servant; the other is a Conquering King.

    The Lion and the Lamb.

    Both of these are Jesus. The first was Jesus as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

    and the Conquering King is Jesus in the age to come.


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  • 1 decade ago


    The things in that chapter did not happen to Israel as a people.

    Edit @

    Aravah : Isaiah 52 IS talking about Israel

    53 -No one, and God is talking about a single individual, has ever fit this definition but Jesus Christ.

    54 - is talking about both

    You can't assume that two different chapters in Isaiah are talking about the same thing or person/s. He was talking to Israel first throughout Isa, but not only about them and to them. Isa 11:10, Isa 42:1, 42:6, 49:6, 60:3 etc.

    Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

    seed here is spiritual seed

    With Christ, we have been opened to a whole new world that Abraham, who was righteous, didn't even get to experience. However, he rejoiced in coming into knowledge of it. John 8:56

    Aravah - I hear Jews say that no man can be a sacrifice for another man's sin. What did God mean here in 53:10?

    a real disagreement here stems from Christian belief that the whole Bible is based on the Life and times of Jesus Christ, with him first being announced to man in Genesis 3:15

    Edit: @ Aravah, Sola Scriptura!

    I guess the messiah that Jewish people are waiting for is not the same as our Christ, Who was sent, first to Israel and then to all of mankind. We see Christ in those prophesies and you don't. It doesn't automatically make either of us correct (logic). This is the same argument that theologians have been debating for centuries.

    Isa. 9:6, why on earth would God refer to a human being as the "mighty God"? What does the Hebrew Bible say, in English?

    I can take most of those prophesies you mentioned and reveal a different meaning about them, from a Christian Biblical perspective. When are those things going to happen and why? Why would God suddenly give spiritual meaning to Israel at this time. They were practicing law, as opposed to Christian grace.

    Ezekiel 18 - true, but that was before Christ. It was the way it was at present.

    Source(s): CHRISTIAN Bible
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  • Read Isaiah 52 and it tells you it's about the Jewish people during the Babylonian captivity.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It's Israel whether it seems right to you or not. It's not Jesus.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    answer: Israel - start at 52 and go to 54 - it is NOT about a "suffering" messiah.

    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.”

    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.

    Isaiah 45:4

    For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I called you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.

    “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and declare to her: Her term of service is over, her iniquity is expiated; for she has received at the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:2)

    Simply put, there are 15 verses in the Targum’s annotation on Isaiah 53 (52:13-15 and 53:1-12); yet with surgical precision, missionary conversionist tracts selectively and deliberately ignore almost all of them with the exception of the first verse on Isaiah 52:13. This is a well-worn technique of wielding rabbinic literature as an evangelical sledgehammer to drive home the well-crafted message to unlettered Jews that ancient rabbis concealed that Isaiah 53 is speaking of the messiah and not the nation of Israel. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.

    # # #

    Yes, there can be different topics in the same "chapter" because chapters were a late invention. There are actually few prophecies about the Jewish Messiah and nowhere is there a suffering servant nor a HUMAN sacrifice.

    G-d said that no one can take on the sins of others. Isaiah doesn't counterdict the Torah - perhaps some need to grasp poetic speech found frequently in prophecy

    The Bible is clear, and it is consistent. One person cannot die for the sins of another. This means that the guilt from the sins committed by one person cannot be wiped out by the punishment given to another person. First, in Exodus 32:30-35, Moses asks God to punish him for the sin of the Golden Calf, committed by the people. God tells Moses that the person who committed the sin is the person who must receive the punishment. Then, in Deuteronomy 24:16, God simply states this as a basic principle, "Every man shall be put to death for his own sins." This concept is repeated in the Prophets, in Ezekiel 18 "The soul that sinneth, it shall die... the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

    The actual prophecies about the Jewish Messiah

    * The Sanhedrin will be re-established (Isaiah 1:26)

    * Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance. (Isaiah 2:4)

    * The whole world will worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:17)

    * He will be descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1) via King Solomon (1 Chron. 22:8-10)

    * The Moshiach will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with "fear of God" (Isaiah 11:2)

    *****In other words - this must all be accomplished in a human lifetime*****

    * Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership (Isaiah 11:4)

    * Knowledge of God will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9)

    * He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations (Isaiah 11:10)

    * All Israelites will be returned to their homeland (Isaiah 11:12)

    * Death will be swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8)

    * There will be no more hunger or illness, and death will cease (Isaiah 25:8)

    * All of the dead will rise again (Isaiah 26:19)

    * The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness (Isaiah 51:11)

    * He will be a messenger of peace (Isaiah 52:7)

    * Nations will end up recognizing the wrongs they did to Israel (Isaiah 52:13-53:5)

    * The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance (Zechariah 8:23)

    * The ruined cities of Israel will be restored (Ezekiel 16:55)

    * Weapons of war will be destroyed (Ezekiel 39:9)

    * The Temple will be rebuilt (Ezekiel 40) resuming many of the suspended mitzvot

    * He will then perfect the entire world to serve God together (Zephaniah 3:9)

    * Jews will know the Torah without Study (Jeremiah 31:33)

    * He will give you all the desires of your heart (Psalms 37:4)

    * He will take the barren land and make it abundant and fruitful (Isaiah 51:3, Amos 9:13-15, Ezekiel 36:29-30, Isaiah 11:6-9).

    Thanks to Mark S, myself and Plushy Bear

    Source(s): Origen, Contra Celsum, Chadwick, Henry; Cambridge Press, book 1, chapter 55, page 50 TDs won't change the facts, especially those coming from a CHRISTIAN historian Birdy - agreed, your Messiah isn't the same as the one Jews have been waiting on. Do back off from your statement that the prophecies can be interpreted by any religion. It will be very hard to explain no more death, war and everyone following G-d from a Satanic perspective in the Messianic Age. Just a thought.
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  • Moi
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    It's Jesus Christ of course. But the blind simply cannot see.

    In one form or another, Jesus Christ appears on every page of Scripture.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


    It is the prophecy of Jesus coming and what He was going to do.

    "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities..."

    verse 5

    That is one of the things that should ring a bell.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Jesus Christ.

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