Isaiah 53:10

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Yet it pleased Jehovah 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 Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. (ASV)


Isaiah 53 is frequently re-interpreted by Christians as a prophetic reference to Jesus, and (as with Isaiah 53:3) this belief has influenced the translation here in most Christian Bibles. The word translated here as "grief", Hebrew chalah, actually means "disease" in most other places throughout the Bible, though this case isn't quite as clear-cut as the Isaiah 53:3-4 case: other (rare) uses generally involve symptoms associated with disease, such as "become weak" or "become tired". This is the word used in Genesis 48:1, Deuteronomy 29:22 and 2 Kings 20:1. As previously, the (pre-Christian) Greek Septuagint has "plague" here, and Jewish translations of Isaiah use "diseased". But disease isn't one of the trials that Jesus supposedly suffered, hence the distortion of the text.

"Bruise" is another mistranslation: never translated thus, except in Isaiah 53. The Hebrew word here actually means "crushed" or "broken" (sometimes metaphorically, just as we can describe a man as "crushed" or "broken" in English). The Servant should be crushed or broken by disease, or maybe oppressed or humbled or made contrite by it (as it's plainly used in a metaphorical sense). Not "bruised".

And yet, despite these distortions, the verse plainly doesn't apply to Jesus anyhow, because of how it ends: Jesus never saw his seed (i.e. had kids) or "prolonged his days" (he supposedly died young). And the actual identity of the "Suffering Servant" is made clear elsewhere in Isaiah, such as Isaiah 49:3: it's an allegorical representation of Israel. If Isaiah did have a specific person in mind, it was probably King Uzziah (king in Isaiah's time) who died of leprosy. Though it's fair to say that the notion of a human personification of Israel is somewhat "Messianic", and a later Jewish Messianic interpretation of Isaiah's "Suffering Servant" did arise (including the leprosy). --Robert Stevens 03:33, 8 Sep 2006 (CDT)


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