Isaiah 53 and the afflicted Hezekiah

Image result for book of isaiah

 

 by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“The Suffering Servant, who has the guilt of all laid upon him (53:6), giving up his life as a sin-offering (53:10) and bearing the sins of many (53:12), thereby carries out the ministry of the high priest, fulfilling the figure of the priesthood from deep within. He is both priest and victim, and in this way he achieves reconciliation”.

Pope Benedict XVI

 

 

 

“Suffering Servant” prefigures Jesus Christ

 

Richard B. Hays, writing a review of Pope Benedict XVI’s book, Jesus of Nazareth Holy Week From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection (2011), acknowledges an outstanding feature of Benedict’s book: how the Old Testament prefigures and leads to the New Testament: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/08/001-benedict-and-the-biblical-jesus

 

Benedict and the Biblical Jesus

 

….

From beginning to end, Benedict grounds his interpretation of Jesus in the Old as well as the New Testament. The significance of the gospel stories is consistently explicated in relation to the Old Testament’s typological prefiguration of Jesus, and Jesus is shown to be the flowering or consummation of all that God had promised Israel in many and various ways. The resulting intercanonical conversation offers many arresting insights into Jesus’ identity and significance. Many of the connections that Benedict discerns are traditional in patristic exegesis, but his explication of them is artful and effective.

 

[End of quote]

 

On p. 81, Pope Benedict credits French priest André Feuillet with pointing out how well Isaiah’s Suffering Servant Songs throw light upon the high-priestly prayer of Jesus (John 17):

 

….

Before we consider the individual themes contained in Jesus’ high-priestly prayer, one further Old Testament allusion should be mentioned, one that has again been studied by André Feuillet. He shows that the renewed and deepened spiritual understanding of the priesthood found in John 17 is already prefigured in Isaiah’s Suffering Servant Songs, especially in Isaiah 53. The Suffering Servant, who has the guilt of all laid upon him (53:6), giving up his life as a sin-offering (53:10) and bearing the sins of many (53:12), thereby carries out the ministry of the high priest, fulfilling the figure of the priesthood from deep within. He is both priest and victim, and in this way he achieves reconciliation. Thus the Suffering Servant Songs continue along the whole path of exploring the deeper meaning of the priesthood and worship, in harmony with the prophetic tradition ….

 

On p. 136, Benedict returns to this theme:

 

For we have yet to consider Jesus’ fundamental interpretation of his mission in Mark 10:45, which likewise features the word “many”; “For the Son of [Man] also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”. Here he is clearly speaking of the sacrifice of his life, and so it is obvious that Jesus is taking up the Suffering Servant prophecy from Isaiah 53 and linking it to the mission of the Son of Man, giving it a new interpretation.

 

And then, on pp. 173 and 199, he broadens it:

 

This idea of vicarious atonement is fully developed in the figure of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53, who takes the guilt of many upon himself and thereby makes them just (53:11). In Isaiah, this figure remains mysterious: the Song of the Suffering Servant is like a gaze into the future in search of the one who is to come.

….

The history of religions knows the figure of the mock king — related to the figure of the “scapegoat”. Whatever may be afflicting the people is offloaded onto him: in this way it is to be driven out of the world. Without realizing it, the soldiers were actually accomplishing what those rites and ceremonies were unable to achieve: “Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5). Thus caricatured, Jesus is led to Pilate, and Pilate presents him to the crowd — to all mankind: “Ecce homo”, “Here is the man!” (Jn 19:5).

 

Before concluding his treatment of the subject on pp. 252-253:

 

A pointer towards a deeper understanding of the fundamental relationship with the word is given by the earlier qualification: Christ died “for our sins”. Because his death has to do with the word of God, it has to do with us, it is a dying “for”. In the chapter of Jesus’ death on the Cross, we saw what an enormous wealth of tradition in the form of scriptural allusions feeds into the background here, chief among them the fourth Song of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). Insofar as Jesus’ death can be located within this context of God’s word and God’s love, it is differentiated from the kind of death resulting from Man’s original sin as a consequence of his presumption in seeking to be like God, a presumption that could only lead to man’s plunge into wretchedness, into the destiny of death. ….

 

 

Hezekiah seems to fit Isaiah 53

 

 

 

53:7 When his sickness was at its worst, [Hezekiah] acknowledged the justice of the LORD’s judgment upon him, but like a dumb man who did not open his mouth, he expected from hour to hour the moment of his death, as he declares himself in his writing (Isaiah 38:9): I said in the cutting off of my days, let me go through the gates of death, etc, and accepted his afflictions as sent upon him in love, without murmuring, or complaining of the shortness of his days. ….

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The so-called “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53 is sometimes referred to as the “Fourth Suffering Servant”, or, with direct reference to the text itself, the “Fourth Song of the Suffering Servant”. For instance: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/reflections-songs-suffering-servant-4.cfm

 

by Graziano Marcheschi, M.A. D.Min

Song 4 — Suffering and Triumph of the Servant of the Lord

 

This fourth Song of the Suffering Servant is likely one of the best known texts of the entire Old Testament. It is a plaintive dirge that declares God’s innocent Servant was punished for our sins and crushed for our iniquities. Like a “lamb led to the slaughter,” he went silently to his death, a death that bore away our offenses and made us whole.

 

Though the “suffering” of the Suffering Servant is more evident in this text than in the other “songs,” this passage begins with a trumpet blast declaration of the Servant’s future glory. His exaltation, however, won’t spring from victory but from a well of deep sorrow. Though cast in the past tense, the Servant’s suffering is palpable.

 

Perhaps what’s most remarkable about the Servant is how unremarkable he is: “no majestic bearing” to attract, “no beauty” to please the eye. He was shunned and avoided the way one might recoil from a leper. And yet, says the prophet, it was for us that he suffered, for us that he endured shame. Foolishly, we assumed he was reaping the fruit of his own failures, but now we see the truth: it was our sins brought him low. In street parlance we might say, “We did the crime, but he did the time.” If at least he would complain, express anger, go resentfully to his death. Maybe that would assuage our guilt. But he accepts his fate in silent dignity. No finger pointing; no “woe is me.”

 

Mercifully, he bore the wounds but we were healed. He did no wrong, Isaiah tells us, yet somehow it suits the will of God to make him a “reparation offering” and let him be cast aside “among the wicked.”

 

Such willing self-sacrifice is as surprising as the spin Isaiah gives it. Any religious person of his day would have viewed the Servant’s suffering as rightful punishment for sin. But the prophet sees through a different lens. With beautiful imagery, Isaiah announces ultimate vindication for the Servant whose vicarious suffering will “justify the many.” God greatly rewards the selfless Servant and turns his suffering into the ointment that heals the world.

 

This vision must have shocked Isaiah’s audience. A Messiah who would suffer and die instead of riding in with brandished sword to drive out their foreign dominators was plain preposterous. So was the notion that he would “justify the many.” The Messiah’s light was to shine on Israel, not upon the nations. It would be difficult, indeed, to long for such a universal Messiah.

 

Yet who could fail to recognize the suffering Christ within the contours of the Servant’s face? No one paints a better portrait than Isaiah of the Christ who suffered silently for our sins. But let’s not forget how this song begins: “My servant shall be raised high and greatly exalted.” Because he “surrendered himself to death,” the suffering, mocked Messiah is now the Lord who reigns and reconciles.

[End of quote]

 

This series will be purely concentrated upon Isaiah 53 – whether or not the other three supposed Songs of the Suffering Servant directly relate to it.

Apart from the common identification of the “Suffering Servant” here with Jesus the Messiah, various other candidates have been tossed into the ring as well, including the collective “Israel”, particularly Israel in exile.

 

Others say that he is Moses, or king Josiah of Judah.

It may remind one of when Jesus asked his disciples at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13): ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’, and He thereupon received these various viewpoints (vv. 14, 16): ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets … You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’.

Given that the prophet Isaiah appears to have been talking about a young contemporary male whom they had familiarly seen growing up (53:2): “He grew up like a tender shoot before us, like a root from dry ground. He possessed no splendid form for us to see, no desirable appearance”, I have been inclined to opt for either King Hezekiah or Eliakim, both younger contemporaries of the prophet who had begun to receive the word of God as far back as Hezekiah’s great-grandfather, King Uzziah of Judah (Isaiah 1:1): “The vision about Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah, son of Amos, saw in the days of Judah’s kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah”.

The words, “like a shoot” or “sapling” (כַּיּוֹנֵק) “like a root” (כַשֹּׁרֶשׁ) in v. 2 could suggest Davidic lineage (hence e.g. Hezekiah).

But in Part One (i) we had considered the high-priestly imagery associated with the Isaian text (hence e.g. Eliakim). See my:

 

Hezekiah’s Chief Official Eliakim was High Priest

 

https://www.academia.edu/31701765/Hezekiahs_Chief_Official_Eliakim_was_High_Priest

 

However, the terms of Isaiah 53 did not seem to fit well with what we know about Eliakim.

As for collective Israel, or Judah, the prophets invariably (but not always) spoke of these in feminine terms: Virgin daughter of Zion; heifer; and the less flattering harlot, whore, prostitute. The Hebrew verb in Isaiah 53:2 וַיַּעַל “For he grew up …”, is masculine.

 

Strong Proud King Hezekiah

 

This is the description given the King of Judah by his arch foe Sennacherib, Great King of the Assyrians (Bull Inscriptions): “… the strong, proud Hezekiah …”.

Roughly half a millennium later, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) would include Hezekiah – and, of course, Isaiah – amongst the greats of the past (44:1-2): “… godly men, our ancestors of generations past, those whom the Lord honoured with great glory, in whom his greatness has been seen …”.

 

Sirach 48:17-25:

 

Hezekiah

 

Hezekiah fortified his city,
and brought water into the midst of it;
he tunneled the sheer rock with iron
and built pools for water.
In his days Sennacherib came up,
and sent the Rabshakeh;
he lifted up his hand against Zion
and made great boasts in his arrogance.
Then their hearts were shaken and their hands trembled,
and they were in anguish, like women in travail.
But they called upon the Lord who is merciful,
spreading forth their hands toward him;
and the Holy One quickly heard them from heaven,
and delivered them by the hand of Isaiah.
The Lord smote the camp of the Assyrians,
and his angel wiped them out.
For Hezekiah did what was pleasing to the Lord,
and he held strongly to the ways of David his father,
which Isaiah the prophet commanded,
who was great and faithful in his vision.

 

Isaiah

\

In his days the sun went backward,
and he lengthened the life of the king.
By the spirit of might he saw the last things,
and comforted those who mourned in Zion.
He revealed what was to occur to the end of time,
and the hidden things before they came to pass.

 

 

Various scholars have considered that Isaiah 53 was referring to King Hezekiah of Judah.

I would agree, and I particularly like the interpretation given by Jacob Joseph Mordecai:

http://jaymack.net/isaiah-commentary/Iy-The-Death-of-the-Suffering-Servant.asp

 

The Death of the Suffering Servant

….
Nevertheless, many Jewish commentators have come up with different interpretations to the identity of the Suffering Servant. Some say he is Moses, some say king Josiah, but most interpret the passage symbolically and say the Servant is Israel in exile. Others, like Jacob Joseph Mordecai try a more literal approach. His interpretation is very logical and makes perfect sense. He himself says that Scripture never bears any other than the simple and literal meaning. But without the mind of Christ, it is clear that there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to death (Proverbs 14:1-13). Jacob Joseph Mordecai said that the Suffering Servant is King Hezekiah.

   52:13a Behold my Servant shall prosper, as it is said in Second Chronicles 32:30, And Hezekiah prospered in all his works, therefore, Hezekiah is rightly called God’s servant, for he not only turned himself, but also brought back Judah, and a great part of Israel as well, to the service of God – an achievement which none of his ancestors, in spite of all their excellent intentions, ever contemplated. For he put away the high places, and sent runners throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the king and his leaders, and spoke according to the commandment of the king: Children of Israel, return to ADONAI the God of Abraham (Second Chronicles 30:6). He restored the crown to its former state, entreating the favor of his princes and ministers, almost prostrating himself before them, while he said: Hear me, Levites! Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of ADONAI the God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place (Second Chronicles 29:5).

   52:13b He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high, for so it said in Second Chronicles 32:23: And many brought gifts to the LORD at Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations thereafter.

52:14 Because of the dangerous illness that attacked him, his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness as he drew near to the gates of Death (Psalm 107:18).

52:15a Many kings and princes were amazed exceedingly at the miracle wrought for him, for not with sword or spear did ADONAI save his anointed from the hand of Sennacherib.

52:15b but greater far was the miracle which displayed itself in the world when the orbit of the sun turned backward before the eyes of all, and when Merodach-Baladan sent ambassadors to him to enquire about the portent which had occurred in the earth; this is what is meant by the words: What had not been told to them they have seen; for they perceived clearly that so highly favored was he in the eyes of God that the order of creation was altered for his benefit.

53:1 Who has believed our message? Feigning surprise, asks the prophet of his pious contemporaries; for good Hezekiah was a descendant of the wicked Ahaz, and upon Hezekiah was the arm of ADONAI revealed in the destruction of Sennacherib.

53:2 At the time when all were immersed in idolatrous worship, Hezekiah grew up before Him like a tender shoot, out of dry ground, in which was no religion or fear of God.

53:3 As, from his birth upwards, Hezekiah rejected the deeds of his fathers, and the shameful customs of his age, the people abominated him, and held aloof from him, and hence he was despised and rejected by men, his father in particular hating him even to the day of his death, for he made him pass through the fire of Molech (Second Kings 16:3 and Sanhedrin, fol. 69), though he was delivered miraculously by God. Still, however, the few righteous who were to be found at that time felt a longing and desire for him saying, “O that the shoot were to come up from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1) and that the Spirit of knowledge and fear of ADONAI were resting on him (Isaiah 11:2),” and this is the meaning of the words: He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him (Isaiah 53:2), yet we desired him. When, after his father’s death, he ascended to the throne, his servants were so much dissatisfied that, with Shebna at their head, they rebelled against him, and sought to submit themselves to the wicked Pekah, son of Remaliah, king of Israel, as Isaiah narrates in 53:6 and when they saw him afflicted with severe illness, their hatred carried itself still further, and they poured contempt upon their prince, judging maliciously that his sufferings were because he had despised their own wicked faith, and that the graven images of their gods would hide their faces from him.

53:4 They did so even more when they saw that his affliction prevented him from maintaining the style and manners of a court (Sanhedrin, fol. 94), for he would eat only a pound of meat a day: since, then, he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, with a whole heart, just as his father David had done (Second Chronicles 29:2), and removed all defilement from the sanctuary (Second Chronicles 29:5) and restored all Israel to the true faith, the sufferings which he endured must have been for the sake of his generation; almost, indeed, had the Almighty determined to quench the coal that was left, and to give Jerusalem to the hand of Sennacherib, and only in consequence of Hezekiah was the redemption of their soul achieved, and deliverance wrought for them by his transcendent merits, so far surpassing the sufferings which he bare.

53:5-6 After this, however, all perceived that he was pierced for their transgressions, and crushed for their iniquities, in order to make atonement for them unto God; for the attribute of judgment, displaying itself before them, laid on him the iniquity of them all, as the text says, for the transgressions of My people (Isaiah 53:8), even the wounds which should have fallen upon them.

53:7 When his sickness was at its worst, he acknowledged the justice of the LORD’s judgment upon him, but like a dumb man who did not open his mouth, he expected from hour to hour the moment of his death, as he declares himself in his writing (Isaiah 38:9): I said in the cutting off of my days, let me go through the gates of death, etc, and accepted his afflictions as sent upon him in love, without murmuring, or complaining of the shortness of his days.

   53:8 When, however, he heard the prophet Isaiah’s command: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover (Isaiah 38:1), he entreated God to grant him a longer life in order that he might be enabled to serve him; by oppression and judgment he would have been taken away in the prime of his life and when his reign had but lately commenced: now, if his death had occurred before he had time to restore the faith of his people to its pristine integrity, who would have told of his generation?

53:9 It would have been rather a generation departing in darkness until it was all consumed without having seen the mighty acts of the LORD, wrought by him on behalf of himself after him, but would have been buried with his wicked father – as the text states: He was assigned a grave with the wicked, implying that it was so determined – in spite of the innocence of his hands, and the fact that he had done no violence.

53:10 Yet, it was ADONAI’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and to put the guilt of his generation on his soul; accordingly, after his prayer, when God had heard his supplication and seen his tears, the promise is given that He will see his offspring and prolong his days; thus God added to his life fifteen years, and let him “see seed”, for previously he had no children.

53:12 Therefore, I will give him a portion among the great and he will divide the spoils, or the spoils of Sennacherib, because he bore the iniquities of the age, and was counted as a transgressor, and above all interceded for the remnant that were still left (who were the transgressors), as it is said in Second Kings 19:15: And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD, “ADONAI, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth,” and in Second Chronicles 32:20, “King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amos cried out in prayer to heaven.” This, then, is the meaning of made intercession for the transgressors, in order that the city might not fall into the hands of the King of Assyria. And so, when all Judah and Jerusalem and the remnant of Israel returned to the services of ADONAI, and the sanctuary was restored to its original purity, and the priests to their ministrations, and the Levites to their pulpits (all which Ahaz had neglected), and when they beheld the miracles, then all his servants began to love and honor him; and when he died, he was not assigned a grave with the wicked, as had been determined, and as nearly took place, but he ended his life honorably and Hezekiah rested with his fathers and was buried on the hill where the tombs of David’s descendants are. All Judah and the people of Jerusalem honored him when he died (Second Chronicles 32:33).

Such is the interpretation, which I have been able to give of these verses. And if my view is not in accordance with the mind of the prophet, I pray the Almighty to grant me a reward for what I have done! May the ADONAI lighten mine eyes in His Law! And may the purpose of mine heart be well pleasing to him! This is one rabbinic interpretation of Chapter 53, that the suffering servant was Hezekiah.

 

 

Isaiah 53: 1-12

 

1 Who can believe what we have heard, and for whose sake has the LORD’s arm been revealed?

2 He grew up like a young plant before us, like a root from dry ground. He possessed no splendid form for us to see, no desirable appearance.

3 He was despised and avoided by others; a man who suffered, who knew sickness well. Like someone from whom people hid their faces, he was despised, and we didn’t think about him.

4 It was certainly our sickness that he carried, and our sufferings that he bore, but we thought him afflicted, struck down by God and tormented.

5 He was pierced because of our rebellions and crushed because of our crimes. He bore the punishment that made us whole; by his wounds we are healed.

6 Like sheep we had all wandered away, each going its own way, but the LORD let fall on him all our crimes.

7 He was oppressed and tormented, but didn’t open his mouth. Like a lamb being brought to slaughter, like a ewe silent before her shearers, he didn’t open his mouth.

8 Due to an unjust ruling he was taken away, and his fate—who will think about it? He was eliminated from the land of the living, struck dead because of my people’s rebellion.

9 His grave was among the wicked, his tomb with evildoers, though he had done no violence, and had spoken nothing false.

10 But the LORD wanted to crush him and to make him suffer. If his life is offered as restitution, he will see his offspring; he will enjoy long life. The LORD’s plans will come to fruition through him.

11 After his deep anguish he will see light, and he will be satisfied. Through his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant, will make many righteous, and will bear their guilt.

12 Therefore, I will give him a share with the great, and he will divide the spoil with the strong, in return for exposing his life to death and being numbered with rebels, though he carried the sin of many and pleaded on behalf of those who rebelled.

 

 

Skipping over the Old Testament

 

 

 

The “figure” becomes far less “mysterious”, I would suggest,

if he is to be grounded in some literal flesh and blood person of Isaiah’s day.

 

 

 

Such Christians as those who tend to relate solely to the New Testament, having an extremely poor knowledge of – even sometimes seeming to be virtually allergic to – the Old Testament, will immediately identify Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” as Jesus Christ the Messiah, without any consideration that the ancient prophet might have intended, directly and literally, some younger contemporary of his – such as King Hezekiah of Judah, as I suggested in the earlier section:  Hezekiah seems to fit Isaiah 53.

Now, whilst I could never accuse Pope Benedict XVI of discounting the Old Testament – he who in his book, Jesus of Nazareth (2011), is at pains show how the Old Testament prefigures and leads to the New Testament – and that Jesus Christ cannot be properly understood without the Old Testament – also writing along such lines as (p. 202):

 

What is remarkable about these [Four Gospel] accounts [of Jesus’ crucifixion and Death] is the multitude of Old Testament allusions and quotations they contain: word of God and event are deeply interwoven. The facts are, so to speak, permeated with the word – with meaning; and the converse is also true: what previously had been merely word – often beyond our capacity to understand – now becomes reality, its meaning unlocked [,]

 

– Benedict does, nevertheless, seem to bypass any possible ancient identification of Isaiah 53’s Suffering Servant in this next statement of his (I had previously quoted this):

 

“In Isaiah, this figure remains mysterious: the Song of the Suffering Servant

is like a gaze into the future in search of the one who is to come”.

 

The “figure” becomes far less “mysterious”, I would suggest, if he is to be grounded in some literal flesh and blood person of Isaiah’s day: one who also points to “the one who is to come”, who perfectly fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy, but who also re-interprets it, thereby, in the words of Benedict, ‘unlocking its meaning’.

 

Along somewhat similar lines, the prophet Job has remained “mysterious”, and “like a gaze”, without any known genealogy; or era; or country, unless he be “grounded” in his more historically-endowed alter ego, Tobias, son of Tobit. See my:

 

Job’s Life and Times

 

https://www.academia.edu/3787850/Jobs_Life_and_Times

 

And somewhat similar again is the common tendency to lift the Book of Apocalypse (Revelation) right out of its contemporary era, and interpret it almost wholly as a prophecy pertaining to our times, without realising that its “ground” is the C1st AD, though it also “gazes” prophetically into our day with which its shares some striking parallelisms.

But by no means can Apocalypse’s literalness be applied to the modern age.

 

Account of Job

modelled on Isaiah 53

 

 

“… just because someone – in this case the Suffering Servant – is having pain inflicted upon them, even by God’s decree, that this automatically entails God’s Wrath must be upon the individual … is a serious logical fallacy. The prime example of this false assumption being soundly disproved is that Job is explicitly described as being “stricken,” “smitten,” “afflicted,” etc, by God – yet the very lesson of the Book of Job is that God caused all this suffering to fall upon Job yet God’s Wrath was never upon him.”.

 

 

“Is Job the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53? …” we find being asked at Nick’s Catholic site: http://catholicnick.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/is-job-suffering-servant-of-isaiah-53.html

 

Though Isaiah 53 is one of the primary OT proof-texts for the Protestant understanding of the Atonement, popularly termed “Penal Substitution,” in this post I will briefly look at various verses in the chapter and show why projecting that erroneous doctrine onto this prophecy doesn’t work.
As I go through Isaiah 53, I will highlight various words that appear elsewhere in the OT:

 

(53:4a) Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows

 

(11c) he shall bear their iniquities

 

(12c) yet he bore the sin of many

 

St Matthew (8:16-17) directly quotes verse 4a and applies it to Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons; it has nothing to do with Penal Substitution. The term “bore” (H5375) here also appears in verse 12c, and the term “carried” (H5445) also appears in verse 11c. What the parallel usage in 4a (and Mat 8:16f) shows is that the notion of ‘bearing’ need not be literal nor so called “imputation”, but rather a way of simply saying ‘takes away’.

 

(4b) yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

 

(7a) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted

 

Job 2:5 But stretch out your hand and touch his [Job’s] bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.

Job 19: 21 Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!

Job 30:11 God has loosed my cord and humbled me

 

Many Protestants read 4b as saying people thought (“esteemed” H2803) Jesus was being punished for His own sins rather than ours, but that’s a serious distortion and quite unwarranted. In fact, it ties back to 53:2-3, where it says the Jews “esteemed” (same word) Jesus as a nobody, and at the Cross thought was under God’s displeasure because God didn’t come to His rescue (cf. Mat 27:40-43) – though these folks were obviously jumping to erroneous conclusions. The term “esteemed” in Hebrew is very frequently used in reference to people “reckoning” evil thoughts or plans against others, or even down right mistaken (Gen 38:15; 1 Sam 1:13). The term for “stricken” (H5060) is also applied to Job (where the Devil challenges God to touch/strike down Job), as is the term for “smitten” (H5221, where Job states he was ‘smitten by God’), and finally, the term “afflicted” (H6031, where Job states he was afflicted/humbled by God). Keep in mind that though the English words might be slightly different at times (depending on Bible translation), the color-coded Hebrew words are the same, and the context clearly is using the words the same way as well.

 

(5) But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

 

(10) Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him

Job 6:9 that it would please God to crush me

 

Job 5:17 blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty

 

Prov 20:30 Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.

 

As with the previous verse, a similar theme emerges: The Hebrew terms “crushed” (H1792) and “chastisement” (H4148) are applied to Job. One important note here, some translations render the term “chastise” as “punishment,” but this is inaccurate since the term refers to fatherly correction and not a judicial punishment (note how frequently the book of Proverbs uses the term!). With that in mind, while the term “stripes” (H2250) doesn’t appear in Job, the reference to Proverbs above shows it can fit the ‘chastise’ concept as well.

 

(6b) the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all

 

(12c) he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors

 

The term “laid” (H6293) in Hebrew means to “encounter, meet, make intercession,” and this is how it’s used in verse 53:12c. Taking into account the parallel in 12c, the notion that should be drawn from 6b is that the Servant took upon Himself the burden to correct the sins, and interceded (not substituted) to make atonement. Examples of intercession (again, not substitution) appear all over the OT, for example: Jer 15:1; 18:20; Num 25:10-13; Deut 9:16-20.

Conclusion:  The purpose of this brief exercise is to show that just because someone – in this case the Suffering Servant – is having pain inflicted upon them, even by God’s decree, that this automatically entails God’s Wrath must be upon the individual, for that is a serious logical fallacy. The prime example of this false assumption being soundly disproved is that Job is explicitly described as being “stricken,” “smitten,” “afflicted,” etc, by God – yet the very lesson of the Book of Job is that God caused all this suffering to fall upon Job yet God’s Wrath was never upon him. Why can it not be the same for the Only Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ? This is not to put Jesus and Job on the same plane, God forbid, for their status and merits are without comparison. Rather, Job would be a foreshadowing of a more excellent Person, Jesus Himself, which is something the Early Church Fathers saw very clearly. ….                        [End of quote]

 

The prophet Job was indeed a contemporary of Isaiah’s in the neo-Assyrian period (C8th BC). Moreover, scholars have discerned an influence of the so-called Deutero-Isaiah upon the Book of Job (https://books.google.com.au/books?isbn=3161543971), or was it the other way around, that Isaiah was influenced by Job? (https://books.google.com.au/books?isbn=0802825281).

Be any of this as it may, however, the prophet Job could not have been directly or literally intended as the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53.

For one, Job, as Tobias, son of Tobit, had grown up in Nineveh of Assyria, which means that Isaiah could not have written thus of him (Isaiah 53:2): “He grew up like a tender shoot before us, like a root from dry ground”.

What could well be the case, though, is that the account of the prophet Job’s later sufferings, as an aged man of vast experience now living in the Chaldean era, could have been modelled on the “Suffering servant” of Isaiah 53, whom we have identified as King Hezekiah of Judah.

 

Speaking of the so-called “Deutero-Isaiah” – and ignoring here the supposedly even later “Trito-Isaiah” – we learn from: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Book-of-Isaiah

 

Book of Isaiah, also spelled Isaias, one of the major prophetical writings of the Old Testament. The superscription identifies Isaiah as the son of Amoz and his book as “the vision of Isaiah . . . concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” According to 6:1, Isaiah received his call “in the year that King Uzziah died” (742 bc), and his latest recorded activity is dated in 701 bc. Only chapters 1–39, however, can be assigned to this period. Chapters 40–66 are much later in origin and therefore known as Deutero-Isaiah ….

[End of quote]

 

If this series is correct in its view that Isaiah 53 refers to King Hezekiah of Judah, though, then “Deutero-Isaiah” is in a lot of trouble, now being quite anomalous.

 

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