WHAT IS THE CORRECT INTERPRETATION OF THE PASSAGE ISAIAH 52:13 TO 53:12?
In Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12 it is written the following:
13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
14 As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
53 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
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.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
In this passage, God speaks about His servant.
In order to know who is this servant of God to whom He refers, we need to read the previous chapters of the book of the prophet Isaiah.
It is written in Isaiah 41:8-9:
8 But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
And it is written in Isaiah 44:21-22:
21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.
22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.
And in Isaiah 49:1-3 it is written:
49 Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me;
3 And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.
Therefore, we see that the person to whom God, in the book of Isaiah, calls “my servant” is the people of Israel, the nation of Israel, the State of Israel, considered as a whole, throughout the centuries, from its origin until the end of time.
In Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12, we see that God refers at the same time to His servant, the people of Israel, and to the individual Israelites (or Jews), and says that, due to the sins committed by the individual Israelites (or Jews), His servant, the people of Israel (or the nation of Israel, or the State of Israel) suffered very much, to the point of even to die, when losing its territory, when the Israelites (or Jews) were expelled from the Land of Israel, by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, in the centuries VII and VI AEC, and later by the Romans in the centuries I and II EC.
In this passage, God spoke in figurative language, and made a personification of the people, nation and State of Israel as if it were a man, whom He refers to as “my servant”, and said that in the end of time His servant, the people (nation and State) of Israel, will be very much exalted, and that His servant, the people (nation and State) of Israel, will first suffer very much, to the point of even to die when losing its territory, and said that these sufferings of the people (nation and State) of Israel will occur as punishment for the sins committed by the individual Israelites (or Jews), and that these sufferings and death of the people (nation and State) of Israel will serve as atonement for the sins of the individual Israelites (or Jews), and also said that in the end of time the State of Israel will resurge and will be very much exalted, and will divide the spoil with the powerful ones, and will see seed, and will prolong days, and the will of God in its hand will prosper.
This personification of the people (nation and State) of Israel, as if he were a man, is found in many passages of the Holy Scriptures, as, for example, in Isaiah 42:19, where God refers to the people of Israel as His servant, and says that he is blind and deaf, and in Daniel 7:13, where God refers to the people (nation and State) of Israel as a son of man, and in Daniel 7:27 God clarifies that the son of man who appears in the vision is the people of the saints of the most High, that is, the people of Israel.
The Christians say that the passage Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12 refers to the Messiah, but this is not truth, because it refers to the people (nation and State) of Israel, as demonstrated above.
Yahveh bless you.
João Paulo Fernandes Pontes (Hebrew name: Yochanan Ben Yosef).
Published in August 4, 2014.
Updated in August 31, 2014.