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Isaiah 53:3-4

Context

53:3 He was despised and rejected by people, 1 

one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;

people hid their faces from him; 2 

he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. 3 

53:4 But he lifted up our illnesses,

he carried our pain; 4 

even though we thought he was being punished,

attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. 5 

Isaiah 53:12

Context

53:12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, 6 

he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, 7 

because he willingly submitted 8  to death

and was numbered with the rebels,

when he lifted up the sin of many

and intervened 9  on behalf of the rebels.”

1 tn Heb “lacking of men.” If the genitive is taken as specifying (“lacking with respect to men”), then the idea is that he lacked company because he was rejected by people. Another option is to take the genitive as indicating genus or larger class (i.e., “one lacking among men”). In this case one could translate, “he was a transient” (cf. the use of חָדֵל [khadel] in Ps 39:5 HT [39:4 ET]).

2 tn Heb “like a hiding of the face from him,” i.e., “like one before whom the face is hidden” (see BDB 712 s.v. מַסְתֵּר).

3 sn The servant is likened to a seriously ill person who is shunned by others because of his horrible disease.

4 sn Illness and pain stand by metonymy (or perhaps as metaphors) for sin and its effects, as vv. 11-12 make clear.

5 tn The words “for something he had done” are supplied in the translation for clarification. The group now realizes he suffered because of his identification with them, not simply because he was a special target of divine anger.

6 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 [1987]: 330-56).

7 sn The servant is compared here to a warrior who will be richly rewarded for his effort and success in battle.

8 tn Heb “because he laid bare his life”; traditionally, ASV “because he (+ hath KJV) poured out his soul (life NIV) unto death.”

9 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.



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