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Israel as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Not a Feasible Explanation in the Contextual Light of God's Word * * * The passage concerning the "Suffering Servant" in Isaiah 53 (more properly, Isaiah 52:13-53:12) has historically been one of the portions of the Tanakh which has generated the most contention between Jews and Christians. Traditional Christian understand has viewed this passage Messianically, as a foretelling of the sufferings of Jesus Christ upon the cross. To counter this opinion, Jewish theologians have developed the interpretation that the Suffering Servant is the nation of Israel itself. In this article, I shall endeavour to examine the (sometime) Jewish interpretation of these verses, and will explain why Israel itself cannot rightly be understood from this passage as the Suffering Servant. A full examination of the theology surrounding Isaiah 53 is beyond the scope of this present monograph, but hopefully this general subject will be explored in greater detail in the future. Let us begin by looking at the passage in question: > 52:13Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 15So 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. 53:1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2For 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. 3He 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. 4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5But 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. 6All 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. 7He 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. 8He 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. 9And 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. 10Yet 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. 11He 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. 12Therefore 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. Within this text, we find some key statements which, if considered within the greater context of the Hebrew Scriptures, indicate that Israel cannot be the entity spoken of in our passage. Many of these verses simply do not make any sense if we apply them to the nation of Israel as a whole. Take for instance 53:9, > "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." Can this describe Israel, when we look at the testimony of the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures? It is said here that the Servant "had done no violence". The word "violence" here is translated from sm*j* (chamas), a word basically meaning to do violence to, and has the metonymic implications of cruelty, injustice, doing damaging, or oppressing someone. At many points in the Hebrew Scriptures, Israel is charged by God with guilt for their violence. Speaking of Israel, Ezekiel writes, > "My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place: for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it. Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence (chamas)." (Ezekiel 7:22-23) Jeremiah speaks of the cause for coming judgment upon Jerusalem, > "As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence (chamas) and spoil is heard in her; before me continually is grief and wounds."> (Jeremiah 6:7) And Isaiah testifies about the iniquities which separated Israel from their God, > "Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence (chamas) is in their hands." (Isaiah 59:6) Thus, we see that God's Word abundantly testifies, in these places and others, as to the very real presence of violence within the polity of Israel. Trying to cast Israel as the Servant in our passage is thus untenable because the Servant was said to have "done no violence". The "Israel as Servant" interpretation would contradict the copious testimony to violence (likely crime, fraud, oppression of the poor, etc. which are found in every nation) within Israelite society. Further, the passage in v.9 says that the Servant would make his grave with the wicked and the rich in his death. Likewise, other portions of this passage such as v.8, which says that the Servant was "cut off from the land of the living" and v. 12 which says "he hath poured out his soul unto death", all explicitly point to the death of the Servant. If this were to apply to Israel, then it would imply that the entire nation of Israel had suffered death, which would mean the complete elimination of Israel, which obviously has not happened. The apologist who wishes to argue that these passages are perhaps pertaining to the partial destruction of Israel or the deaths of many children of Israel, and thus can still be applied to Israel, faces then a logical problem. If the deaths of only a portion of the children of Israel are needed (in context, this would seem to pertain to deaths through being persecuted or punished) to fulfill this as a prophecy relating to Israel herself, then what is to stop us from arguing ad reducto on the basis of exactly how many would be needed to fulfill this criteria? Would half the nation be needed to fulfill this? If not, then only a quarter? The argument, if one wishes to rely upon the need for only a partial "cutting off from the land of the living", can ultimately be made to reduce the necessity right back down to one person, which leads right back to traditional Messianicity once again. Hence, the argument can be distilled back down logically to the duality of it referring to either the whole nation or to one person. Since we can readily see that being cut off from the land of the living has not happened to the entire nation of Israel, then it would rightly seem to apply to one person (which is the plain, straightforward reading anywise). In v. 11, the Servant is described as being God's "righteous servant". The benefit of the Servant's righteousness is that he can "justify many," and "bear their iniquities". To apply this aspect of the Servant to Israel would conflict with other portions of the Hebrew Scriptures where they deal with the mechanics of atonement for sin. We can see that atonement was to be made in Israel symbolically by the offering up of a spotless lamb or other sacrifice (cf. Ex. 12:5; Lev 1:3,10; Lev. 14:10; Num. 6:14; etc.). This spotlessness symbolises perfection and sinlessness, which is ultimately the implication of the term "righteous". Righteousness (qyD!x^ \- "tsadiyq") is a term which can be applied to individuals who are still sinners (David, e.g.), but this is presented throughout the Hebrew Scriptures as being a righteousness of practice, not of inherent being or essence. Yet, inherent righteousness is exactly the sort needed by the symbolism of the atonement made through spotless sacrificial animals presented throughout the law. That the Servant in v. 11 is said to justify and bear the iniquity of the people connects the servant with this mechanism of atonement. Indeed, to be consistent with the atonement theology presented in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Servant must have righteousness as an inherent trait, not merely as a mode of behaviour or as an imputed state, else this servant could not fulfill the predicted requirement of justifying many and bearing their iniquities. In connexion with our topic here, the Scriptures abundantly testify that Israel did not have righteous, neither inherently nor on many occasions as a pattern of behaviour. Hosea wrote, > "When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney." (Hosea 13:1-3) The weeping prophet states, > "Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth." (Jeremiah 7:26-28) Indeed, Israel's straying from the LORD and God's chastisements designed to return Israel to Him are programmatic themes of many portions of the Hebrew Scriptures. Further, God's testimony concerning all of mankind, Israel presumably included, is that they have all "gone aside" and that there are "none that do good, no, not one" (Psalms 14:3). As such, Israel was in no position to fill a role which was consciously patterned so as to fulfill the symbolism of the atonement process as set forth in the Law. This same objection can be forwarded for v.5, where the Servant is said to be "wounded for our transgressions," "bruised for our iniquities," and that we are healed with His stripes. And as before, if one wishes to argue that perhaps "some" of the people of Israel, maybe those who were morally better than the others, would be able to fulfill this requirement, then we again find the same sort of ad reductio argument as before. Why can't this logically be reduced to a need for only one to fulfill this justification and sin-bearing? Further, what criteria is set for who is "good enough" to fulfill this role in accord with the symbolic criteria set out in the law for spotlessness? Can anybody? God's Law told Israel that if they did not keep the law in its entirety, then they were used its curse, > "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen." (Deuteronomy 27:26) Breaking even a single commandment would bring the curse upon a soul. We have seen above that God's Word testifies to the universality of sinfulness in mankind (including Israel), which would (symbolically speaking) make us all spotted and blemished in the eyes of God. Thus there would be none in Israel who could fulfill this role, and certainly not the nation as a whole. Relatedly, v.9 tells us that the Servant had no "deceit in his mouth". Does this apply to the nation of Israel? Could it apply to this nation, to whom God testifies in both Jeremiah and Isaiah that they drew near to God with their mouths, but yet were far from Him in their hearts, thus implying hypocrisy and deceit in their worship of Him (Isaiah 29:13, Jeremiah 12:2)? What about when God's Word itself testifies to the desire of those in Israel to conduct business unjustly (Amos 8:5), that their houses are full of deceit (Jeremiah 5:27, Zephaniah 1:9), and the whole nation in fact "encompassed about" God with deceit (Hosea 11:12)? Of course, it can be seen that Israel does not fit the bill with regard to this requirement of the Servant. Also, we see in several verses constructions which speak rather explicitly of this Servant as being apart from "us", that He was acting as an independent agent from the nation of Israel. In v.4, it says that he has borne our griefs. Further, v.6 states that our iniquities are laid on him, and v.8 tells us that "for the transgression of my peoplewas he stricken. How can Israel be stricken for and bear her own sins before God? This idea is quite contrary to the sacrificial typology depicted by the atonement mechanism set forth in the Law, whereby one besides the nation (a sacrificial animal) both died for and bore the sins of the nation. Never is Israel said to be able to atone for its own sins, or that it has to bear these sins as a means of expiating the curse which their sins brought upon them before God. Many Jewish apologists will push back with the argument that at points earlier in Isaiah, Israel is specified as the servant of God (Isa. 41:8ff, 44:1ff, 49:3ff). Why then cannot the Servant in Isaiah 53 be considered the same entity? The obvious answer to this argument is contained within the paragraphs above: Israel did not come near to fulfilling those requirements of righteousness and guilelessness which the Servant embodied, as well as falling before the other objections given above. Indeed, whereas Israel (Jacob in 44:1) is in these places explicitly called the "servant", the mention of Israel is conspicuously lacking in Isaiah 53. Is interpretation of Israel as the Servant in Isaiah 53 an historical position to take? As with many reinterpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures which are designed to detract from and nullify "Christian" interpretations, we see that this notion is a somewhat ahistorical and certainly minority position within Judaism for much of its history. Indeed, the rabbis for much of Jewish history understood Isaiah 53 to be Messianic, even if they would not have applied the passage to Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The Targum of Jonathan clearly and concisely states in his commentarian paraphrasing of Isaiah 52:13, > "Behold, My Servant the Messiah shall prosper."[1](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) Numerous other statements concerning King Messiah were drawn from Isaiah 53 over the centuries: > "The fifth interpretation [of Ruth 2:14] makes it refer to the Messiah. Come hither: approach to royal state. And eat of the BREAD refers to the bread of royalty; AND DIP THY MORSEL IN THE VINEGAR refers to his sufferings, as it is said, But he was wounded because of our transgressions. (Isa. LIII, 5)."[2](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) > > "There is in the Garden of Eden a palace named the Palace of the Sons of Sickness. This palace the Messiah enters, and He summons every pain and every chastisement of Israel. All of these come and rest upon Him. And had He not thus lightened them upon Himself, there had been no man able to bear Israel's chastisements for the transgressions of the law; as it is written, 'Surely our sicknesses he has carried.'"[3](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) > > "What is to be the manner of Messiah's advent, and where will be the place of his appearance? . . . And Isaiah speaks similarly of the time when he will appear, without his father or mother of family being known, He came up as a sucker before him, and as a root out of the dry earth, etc. But the unique phenomenon attending his manifestation is, that all the kings of the earth will be thrown into terror at the fame of him -- their kingdoms will be in consternation, and they themselves will be devising whether to oppose him with arms, or to adopt some different course, confessing, in fact, their inability to contend with him or ignore his presence, and so confounded at the wonders which they will see him work, that they will lay their hands upon their mouth; in the words of Isaiah, when describing the manner in which the kings will hearken to him, At him kings will shut their mouth; for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard they have perceived."[4](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) > > "Who art thou, O great mountain (Zech. iv. 7.) This refers to the King Messiah. And why does he call him 'the great mountain?' Because he is greater than the patriarchs, as it is said, 'My servant shall be high, and lifted up, and lofty exceedingly' - he will be higher than Abraham,...lifted up above Moses,....loftier than the ministering angels....I have drawn him out of the chastisements....The chastisements are divided into three parts: one for David and the fathers, one for our own generation, and one for the King Messiah; and this is that which is written, 'He was wounded for our transgressions,' etc."[5](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) > > "And Armilaus will join battle with Messiah, the son of Ephraim, in the East gate . . .; and Messiah, the son of Ephraim, will die there, and Israel will mourn for him. And afterwards the Holy One will reveal to them Messiah, the son of David, whom Israel will desire to stone, saying, Thou speakest falsely; already is the Messiah slain, and there is non other Messiah to stand up (after him): and so they will despise him, as it is written, 'Despised and forlorn of men;' but he will turn and hide himself from them, according to the words, 'Like one hiding his face from us.'"[6](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) > > "My servant shall prosper, or be truly intelligent, because by intelligence man is really man -- it is intelligence which makes a man what he is. And the prophet calls the King Messiah my servant, speaking as one who sent him. Or he may call the whole people my servant, as he says above my people (lii. 6): when he speaks of the people, the King Messiah is included in it; and when he speaks of the King Messiah, the people is comprehended with him. What he says then is, that my servant the King Messiah will prosper."[7](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) > > "The fact is, that it refers to the King Messiah, who will come in the latter days, when it will be the Lord's good pleasure to redeem Israel from among the different nations of the earth.....Whatever he underwent was in consequence of their own transgression, the Lord having chosen him to be a trespass-offering, like the scape-goat which bore all the iniquities of the house of Israel."[8](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) > > "And let his [Israel's] kingdom be exalted," in the days of the Messiah, of whom it is said, 'Behold my servant shall prosper; he will be high and exalted, and lofty exceedingly."[9](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) And so forth. Numerous other rabbinical statements about the Messianicity of Isaiah 53 abound. Certainly, this view was not the uniform view within the early formative period of modern Judaism, from whence the interpretation Israel as the Suffering Servant appeared. We see from Nachmanides' statement (c. 13th century) that he viewed the Israel interpretation to be correct, but at the same time recognised that the weight of historical midrash exegesis was in favour of the traditional Messianic interpretation, > "The right view respecting this Parashah is to suppose that by the phrase "my servant" the whole of Israel is meant....As a different opinion, however, is adopted by the Midrash, which refers it to the Messiah, it is necessary for us to explain it in conformity with the view there maintained. The prophet says, The Messiah, the son of David of whom the text speaks, will never be conquered or perish by the hands of his enemies. And, in fact the text teaches this clearly....And by his stripes we were healed -- because the stripes by which he is vexed and distressed will heal us; God will pardon us for his righteousness, and we shall be healed both from our own transgressions and from the iniquities of our fathers."[10](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) The 14th century Rabbi Ibn Crispin intimates that the Israel interpretation was the common one, > "This Parashah the commentators agree in explaining of the Captivity of Israel, although the singular number is used in it throughout. . . .As there is no cause constraining us to do so, why should we here interpret the word collectively, and thereby distort the passage from its natural sense?. . . As then it seemed to me that the doors of the literal interpretation of the Parashah were shut in their face, and that "they wearied themselves to find the entrance," having forsaken the knowledge of our Teachers, and inclined after the "stubbornness of their own hearts," and of their own opinion, I am pleased to interpret it, in accordance with the teaching of our Rabbis, of the King Messiah, and will be careful, so far as I am able, to adhere to the literal sense."[11](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) Yet, the opposite testimony is presented by El-Sheikh in the 16th century, > "I may remark, then, that our Rabbis with one voice accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet is speaking of the King Messiah, and we ourselves also adhere to the same view."[12](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) Thus, both views seem to have been present within Judaism for some time. The earliest record we have for the existence of the "Captivity of Israel" argument is found in Origen's Against Celsus, in which he discusses and refutes an argument from a Jewish opponent who advocated that view[13](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes). The interpretation again appears with Rashi in the 11th century, but appears not to have become the dominant view within Judaism until many centuries after. The Messianic understanding of Isaiah 53, however, has been present and accounted for all throughout the history of Judaism from the Targum of Jonathan in the post-Maccabaean period preceding Christ through to Herz Homberg in the early 19th century. Rabbinical Objection #1 \- Verse 10 of Isaiah 53 proves that the passage canot be speaking of Jesus Christ, since it says that the servant would "see his seed and prolong his days". Jesus neither had children nor lived to old age. To address the first point, this objection presupposes that the "seed" (Hebr. - zerah) spoken of in the verse is physical descendants, i.e. children. This need not be the case. Indeed, we can see from other Biblical usage that zerah, especially in more poetic/prophetic passages such as this one, is on many occasions used to denote a much looser, broader definition of "seed" than one's physical progeny. This can be seen in a grammatical argument from the Hebrew. The passage does *not* say that He would see His seed. It merely says that He would "see seed". The absence of a possessive pronomial suffix in the Hebrew text can indicate that zerah is applying to a looser group than one's own strict progeny. In Rashi's commentaries on the Psalms, this rabbi makes exactly the same sort of argument concerning Psalm 22:30 (MT 31) when he applies "a seed" (in the same construction as Isaiah 53:10) to mean Israel as a whole, while yet applying the "him" in the verse to God. Does this mean that Rashi considered the nation of Israel to be God's physical progeny? Of course not. We further note that Isaiah one several occasions uses "progeny" terms which can only make sense if one applies a spiritual, rather than physical, interpretation to them. For instance, in Isaiah 54:1 we see, > "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD." Obviously, a barren woman is not going to have more physical children than a married woman with children. This passage only makes sense if understood in the sense of spiritual progeny. Also, Isaiah shows examples of God's other promises (aside from the promise of the Servant) which emphasise a fuller spiritual significance over and above the directly physical. He writes that the priesthood and the Levites would be extended beyond the house of Aaron to include even Gentiles in the time of Israel's rest in Isaiah 66:21. He also clearly teaches the extension of the covenant relationship beyond the physical seed of Abraham (i.e Israel), for example Isaiah 19:24 where Israel will be the third party, along with Egypt and Assyria, in sharing the covenant promises. Obviously, in these and other examples which could be given, physical descent is not to be emphasised over the spiritual. As such, Isaiah's reference to the "seed" of the Servant need not be understood in the sense of physical descendants. Let us also note that in the context of the passage, verse 10 is likely not speaking of the Servant having children, since right prior to this in verse 8, we are told that this Servant would be cut off from the land of the living, and the question is asked "who shall declare his generation"? "Generation" is translated from the Hebrew dowr, a word which basically means "a revolution", and has the idea of something turning around, or returning to where it was. The word is often translated as "age" or "generation" to denote the repetitious appearing of succeeding generations of mankind. It can also refer to one's own progeny (likely in the understanding that parents are reproducing themselves through their children), and the word is used as such in Numbers 9:10, > "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD." In this passage, dowr is clearly referring to physical descendance. In Isaiah 53:8, the same idea seems to be implied. If dowr was referring to the age group of people living at the time of the Servant, then the implied disappearance of the Servant's dowr would make no sense. All these other people alive at His time would not disappear, so why ask about their existence? But, if dowr is implying actual, physical progeny, then the Servant being cut off would indeed put an end to any generation from Him, and it is legitimate to inquire about the whereabouts of the non-existent progeny. As such, verse 8 seems to overrule any notion that the Servant would produce physical progeny, and hence, the objection based upon verse 10 would not seem to apply. Concerning the second part of the argument, that the Servant would "prolong his days", we again note some tension from verse 8 with respect to understanding this passage in a strictly earthly sense. The fact that the Servant would be "cut off from the land of the living" and not leave any progeny seems to be a device which suggests that the Servant would be cut off at a fairly young age. As such, the prolonging of days in verse 10 is not to be understood in a strictly literal sense. Instead, we can note that the synthesis of these two verses would yield an idea very near to the idea of the Servant being resurrected from being cut off. He is cut off, yet prolongs His days. This idea is certainly not unknown in the Hebrew scriptures. In perhaps the oldest book in the Hebrew scriptures, Job evinces an expectation of his own resurrection from the grave, > "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." (Job 19:25-27) Job says that he knows that even though he would die and his body be destroyed, yet he would see God *in his flesh* and behold *with his own eyes*. This is a clear expectation of resurrection. David likewise shows an expectation of future resurrection in Psalm 17:15, when he says that he would awake (death in the Hebrew scriptures is often pictured as sleep) and see the LORD's face in righteousness. This implies that he knew he would be brought back to life after his death, and would stand in the LORD's presence. As such, Isaiah 53:10 may very well be alluding to the resurrection of the Servant from being cut off, something which is amply witnessed in the Gospels and the Book of Acts. Conclusion Thus, we can see that there are many difficulties with the interpretation of Israel as the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. The fact of Israel's condition versus the requirements presented for the Servant, coupled with the simple illogics presented by that view, amply demonstrate that this understanding of Isaiah 53 is severely flawed. Even the testimony of Rabbis throughout the history of Judaism show that the Messianic interpretation was understood and widely promulgated, disproving the notion that the Captivity of Israel as an explanation for Isaiah 53 was not the Jewish interpretation contra the "heretical" and "misguided" Christian Messianic interpretation. Let us all, Jewish, Christian, or other, remember the words of de Vidas, the 16th century Spanish rabbi, > "Since the Messiah bears our iniquities which produce the effect of His being bruised, it follows that whoso will not admit that the Messiah thus suffers for our iniquities, must endure and suffer for them himself."[14](http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/servant01.html#notes) End Notes (1) - see S.H. Levey, The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, p. 63 (2) - Midrash Rabbah, vol. VIII, pg. 64, Soncino ed., Rabbah Ruth 5:6 (3) - Zohar, Vol. II, sec. 212a (4) - Maimonides, Letter to Yemen, cited in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, p. 322 (5) - Yalkut ii:571, 620 as cited in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, pp. 9-10 (6) - from the Mysteries of Rabbi Shi'meon ben Yochai, cited in The Fifty- third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, p. 32 (7) - R. Shlomo Astruc, cited in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, p. 129 (8) - H. Homberg, cited in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, pp. 400-401 (9) - Lekach Tov, cited in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, p. 36 (10) - R. Moses ben Nachman, cited in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, p. 78ff (11) - R. Moses Kohen ibn Crispin, cited in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, pp. 99-100 (12) - R. Moses Alshekh of Sefad, cited in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, p. 258 (13) - Origen, Against Celsus, Lib. I, cap. lv (14) - R. Elijah de Vidas, cited in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, eds. S.R. Driver and A. Neubauer, Vol. I, p. 331

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1 Sarah R = "See also http://www.chaim.org/nation.htm."
2 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "https://outreachjudaism.org/gods-suffering-servant-isaiah-53/"
3 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "The notion that Isaiah speaks of Jesus in Isaiah 53 as the suffering servant is preposterous if one actually reads the entire book of Isaiah instead of one single chapter. Here is Christian logic on Isaiah 53 at work:George Washington was a great military leader and President. George Washington was born in Virginia. George Washington never told a lie. George Washington chopped down his father's cherry tree. He was a great man....Who was a great man? Why Abraham Lincoln of course. It doesn't matter that Abraham Lincoln was found nowhere in the above sentences. We can just "imagine" Abraham Lincoln into the verse because we want him there.This logic is exactly the same kind of thinking which is used to "find Jesus" in Isaiah. Instead of spinning scripture which missionaries do very well, let's look at the actual verses to see if they point to Jesus.Isaiah 41:8 - But you, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen. 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. Isaiah 44:1 - Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant and Israel whom I have chosen. Isaiah 44:2 - Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun [righteous ones] whom I have chosen. Isaiah 44:21 - Remember these, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant, I have formed you, you are my servant. Isaiah 45:4 - for Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel my elect. Isaiah 48:20 - The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob. Isaiah 49:3 - You are my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Isaiah 53 - The above mentioned servant of the Lord [Israel] suffers (still today) and is persecuted by the nations (still today). The servant is rejected by the world (still today) but in the end will be vindicated and exalted. [Jesus' suffering on the cross was a singular event, Isaiah describes events that have continued throughout history and will continue until end times. Isaiah writes about the story of his own people, the nation of Israel.]Israel is even referred to as God's servant in the New Testament Luke 1:54 - He has helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy. Not only was Israel identified as the Servant [singular] in the Book of Isaiah, but the identity of Israel as the Servant of the Lord is a recurring theme throughout the entire Jewish scriptures. Psalms 136:22 - A heritage to Israel his servant, for his mercy endures forever. Jeremiah 46:27 - But do not fear, O my servant Jacob, and do not be dismayed, O Israel! Jeremiah 76:28 - Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, says the Lord, for I am with you for I will make a complete end of all the nations. Jeremiah 30:10 - Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob, says the Lord, nor be dismayed, O Israel, for behold, I will save you from afar.Who's the servant named all throughout the Book of Isaiah? One thing's for certain, Abraham Lincoln and Jesus are mentioned the same number of times; zero."
4 Sarah R = "Here's an article more about the difference between the interpretation of Judaism and Christianity of this passage:https://www.deily.org/text/how-does-the-bible-relate-to-judaism"
5 Sarah R = "Some Jewish writings do still interpret this passage as being Messianic, although they do not recognize Jesus Christ as a fulfillment of it."
6 Sarah R = "Here's a great article on how Jewish rabbis interpreted Isaiah 53 around the time of Jesus. This explains why the disciples applied this passage to Jesus in the New Testament, as the understanding of that day was that this chapter was about the coming Messiah. It was only later that the meaning was changed:http://www.jewishawareness.org/the-suffering-servant-of-isaiah-a-rabbinic-antholo/"
7 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "This is spoken by the Gentile kings... Why are they shutting their mouths? What have they seen and not heard? They are shutting their mouths in disbelief that Israel is being redeemed. For they had been told that Israel was rejected by God and now they see this is not the case. In addition, they were always told that Jesus was the suffering servant and now they see they were mistaken. This is the message Isaiah is sending. This is why they exclaim in the next chapter.. "who would have believed our report?" They always believed Jesus was the Messiah and now they are seeing with their own eyes that they were wrong. Their shock is too much to bear."
8 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "All throughout the book of Isaiah, Israel is referred to in the singular "He" in addition to "They" based on the message the Prophet was trying to convey. This book is poetry about Israel the "man of pains and suffering servant of God". Like any good poet, the author places the subject of his poetry into his own definition and style based on the message he is giving.Isaiah 41:8 - But you, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen. 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.Isaiah 44:1 - Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant and Israel whom I have chosen.  Isaiah 44:2 - Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun [righteous ones] whom I have chosen. Isaiah 44:21 - Remember these, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant, I have formed you, you are my servant. Isaiah 45:4 - for Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel my elect. Isaiah 48:20 - The Lord has redeemed His servant Jacob. Isaiah 49:3 - You are my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
9 Sarah R = "The Scripture says that the Old Testament believers had faith in God to save, which was "credited them as righteousness". We have that same faith today, though as Christians we see the means by which God credits us righteousness is through Jesus Christ."
10 Sarah R = "We see an early disciple of Jesus, a Jewish man, interpreting this passage as about the Messiah and fulfilled by Jesus in Acts 8:26ff:26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,    so he did not open his mouth.33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.    Who can speak of his descendants?    For his life was taken from the earth.”34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. "