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Isaiah 53: Medieval Rabbis

Ramban (13th century): 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. . . .

Ibn Ezra (12th Century): Behold, the meaning of “my servant” is every one of Israel that is in captivity, even he is a servant of G-d. . . He is despised and rejected of men. The Jews are despised and rejected of men, Gentiles. A man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. The Jews are suffering from the Gentiles. And we hid as it were our faces from him. The Gentiles don’t want to look as the Jews are being persecuted; they hide their faces. They hate the Jews even when they [the Jews] suffer.

Abarbanel (15th Century): In my judgment, however, the kings and gentiles rather speak thus: We inflicted all this misfortune upon Israel, because by the fault of those who were our teachers, and who expounded and determined for us our law, all the instruction (correction) which they imparted for the perpetuation of OUR peace was directed against HIM, against Israel: they taught us, namely, incessantly that by his stripes we were healed; in other words, that when the stripes of a wound’, which are the clearing of an evil’ (Proverbs 20:30) were inflicted on him, there would be healing and peace for our souls: on this account, therefore, we were desirous for his destruction. In spite, however, of the nations being various, Edom, Ishmael, etc. and their religions different, there was STILL one point common to them all – they had all set their heart to do evil to Israel…

Isaac Orobio de Castro (17th Century): In short, the nations never flourished in prosperity and peace without that peace proving a punishment for the people of HaShem; and this is what Isaiah means in this verse, that the undeceived nations will say the punishment of our peace was upon him, because our happiness, our peace, always proved to be miserable punishment upon Israel; when the L-rd delivered him, for his sins, into our hands, we impiously treated him as a slave, using our prosperity to his damage; about which the same Isaiah reproves them (47:5) Thou didst shew them no mercy, upon the aged thou didst heavily lay thy yoke.” “And by “his wounds we were healed”. Certainly the divine prophet used a very subtle figure of rhetoric in this verse, which consists in turning the proposition by another contrary; the proceeding clause said, that the nations will say, our prosperity, our peace, was a punishment to Israel; and then he converts it; and the wounds or punishment of Israel will be for us peace, welfare, and happiness; our peace caused him punishment, sickness, and wounds; and his wounds will cause us comfort and health; he was wounded for our peace, and we are healed through his wounds; and thus he says the punishment of our peace was upon him, and through his wounds we were healed.

Bombshell Witness: Origen (325 CE): Now I remember that, on one occasion, at a disputation held with certain Jews, who were reckoned wise men, I quoted these prophecies; to which my Jewish opponent replied, that these predictions bore reference to the whole people, regarded as one individual, and as being in a state of dispersion and suffering, in order that many proselytes might be gained, on account of the dispersion of the Jews among numerous heathen nations.

Drash interpretation: Isaiah 52 – 53; the Messianic considerations that arise are allegory. These allegories will present Moses, Daniel, David, and many other people as being the Messiah. Zohar and Targums should be researched.

Filed by Frank at September 26th, 2008 under Religion

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