53:2 He sprouted up like a twig before God, 1
like a root out of parched soil; 2
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, 3
no special appearance that we should want to follow him. 4
53:12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, 5
he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, 6
because he willingly submitted 7 to death
and was numbered with the rebels,
when he lifted up the sin of many
and intervened 8 on behalf of the rebels.”
1 tn Heb “before him.” Some suggest an emendation to “before us.” If the third singular suffix of the Hebrew text is retained, it probably refers to the Lord (see v. 1b). For a defense of this reading, see R. Whybray, Isaiah 40-66 (NCBC), 173-74.
2 sn The metaphor in this verse suggests insignificance.
3 tn Heb “that we might see him.” The vav conjunctive prefixed to the imperfect introduces a result clause here. See GKC 504-5 §166.a.
4 tn Heb “that we should desire him.” The vav conjunctive prefixed to the imperfect introduces a result clause here. See GKC 504-5 §166.a.
5 tn Scholars have debated the precise meaning of the term רַבִּים (rabbim) that occurs five times in this passage (Isa 52:14, 15; 53:11, 12 [2x]). Its two broad categories of translation are “much”/“many” and “great” (HALOT 1171-72 s.v. I רַב). Unlike other Hebrew terms for might or strength, this term is linked with numbers or abundance. In all sixteen uses outside of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (articular and plural) it signifies an inclusive meaning: “the majority” or “the multitude” (J. Jeremias, TDNT 6:536-37). This term occurs in parallelism with עֲצוּמִים (’atsumim), which normally signifies “numerous” or “large” or “powerful” (through large numbers). Like רַבִּים (rabbim), it refers to greatness in numbers (cf. Deut 4:38; 7:1; 9:1; 11:34). It emphasizes the multitudes with whom the Servant will share the spoil of his victory. As J. Olley wrote: “Yahweh has won the victory and vindicates his Servant, giving to him many subservient people, together with their spoils. These numerous peoples in turn receive blessing, sharing in the “peace” resulting from Yahweh’s victory and the Servant’s suffering” (John W. Olley, “‘The Many’: How Is Isa 53,12a to Be Understood,” Bib 68 : 330-56).
6 sn The servant is compared here to a warrior who will be richly rewarded for his effort and success in battle.
7 tn Heb “because he laid bare his life”; traditionally, ASV “because he (+ hath KJV) poured out his soul (life NIV) unto death.”
8 tn The Hiphil of פָּגַע (paga’) can mean “cause to attack” (v. 6), “urge, plead verbally” (Jer 15:11; 36:25), or “intervene militarily” (Isa 59:16). Perhaps the third nuance fits best here, for military imagery is employed in the first two lines of the verse.