answer: Israel - it is NOT prophetic of the Jewish 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.
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."
But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen!
Ezra on Isaiah 53
Origen, Contra Celsum, Chadwick, Henry; Cambridge Press, book 1, chapter 55, page 50
· 9 years ago