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Isaiah 53:4-6

Context

53:4 But he lifted up our illnesses,

he carried our pain; 1 

even though we thought he was being punished,

attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. 2 

53:5 He was wounded because of 3  our rebellious deeds,

crushed because of our sins;

he endured punishment that made us well; 4 

because of his wounds we have been healed. 5 

53:6 All of us had wandered off like sheep;

each of us had strayed off on his own path,

but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. 6 

Isaiah 53:8

Context

53:8 He was led away after an unjust trial 7 

but who even cared? 8 

Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; 9 

because of the rebellion of his own 10  people he was wounded.

Isaiah 53:12

Context

53:12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, 11 

he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, 12 

because he willingly submitted 13  to death

and was numbered with the rebels,

when he lifted up the sin of many

and intervened 14  on behalf of the rebels.”

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

2 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.

3 tn The preposition מִן (min) has a causal sense (translated “because of”) here and in the following clause.

4 tn Heb “the punishment of our peace [was] on him.” שָׁלוֹם (shalom, “peace”) is here a genitive of result, i.e., “punishment that resulted in our peace.”

5 sn Continuing to utilize the imagery of physical illness, the group acknowledges that the servant’s willingness to carry their illnesses (v. 4) resulted in their being healed. Healing is a metaphor for forgiveness here.

6 tn Elsewhere the Hiphil of פָגַע (paga’) means “to intercede verbally” (Jer 15:11; 36:25) or “to intervene militarily” (Isa 59:16), but neither nuance fits here. Apparently here the Hiphil is the causative of the normal Qal meaning, “encounter, meet, touch.” The Qal sometimes refers to a hostile encounter or attack; when used in this way the object is normally introduced by the preposition -בְּ (bet, see Josh 2:16; Judg 8:21; 15:12, etc.). Here the causative Hiphil has a double object – the Lord makes “sin” attack “him” (note that the object attacked is introduced by the preposition -בְּ. In their sin the group was like sheep who had wandered from God’s path. They were vulnerable to attack; the guilt of their sin was ready to attack and destroy them. But then the servant stepped in and took the full force of the attack.

7 tn The precise meaning of this line is uncertain. The present translation assumes that מִן (min) here has an instrumental sense (“by, through”) and understands עֹצֶר וּמִמִּשְׁפָּט (’otser umimmishpat, “coercion and legal decision”) as a hendiadys meaning “coercive legal decision,” thus “an unjust trial.” Other interpretive options include: (1) “without [for this sense of מִן, see BDB 578 s.v. 1.b] hindrance and proper judicial process,” i.e., “unfairly and with no one to defend him,” (2) “from [in the sense of “after,” see BDB 581 s.v. 4.b] arrest and judgment.”

8 tn Heb “and his generation, who considers?” (NASB similar). Some understand “his generation” as a reference to descendants. In this case the question would suggest that he will have none. However, אֶת (’et) may be taken here as specifying a new subject (see BDB 85 s.v. I אֵת 3). If “his generation” refers to the servant’s contemporary generation, one may then translate, “As for his contemporary generation, who took note?” The point would be that few were concerned about the harsh treatment he received.

9 sn The “land of the living” is an idiom for the sphere where people live, in contrast to the underworld realm of the dead. See, for example, Ezek 32:23-27.

10 tn The Hebrew text reads “my people,” a reading followed by most English versions, but this is problematic in a context where the first person plural predominates, and where God does not appear to speak again until v. 11b. Therefore, it is preferable to read with the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa עמו (“his people”). In this case, the group speaking in these verses is identified as the servant’s people (compare פְּשָׁעֵנוּ [pÿshaenu, “our rebellious deeds”] in v. 5 with פֶּשַׁע עַמִּי [pesha’ ’ammi, “the rebellion of his people”] in v. 8).

11 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).

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

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

14 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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