Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Who hath believed our report? - The main design of the prophet in all this portion of his prophecy is, undoubtedly, to state the fact that the Redeemer would be greatly exalted (see Isa 52:13; Isa 53:12). But in order to furnish a fair view of his exaltation, it was necessary also to exhibit the depth of his humiliation, and the intensity of his sorrows, and also the fact that he would be rejected by those to whom he was sent. He, therefore, in this verse, to use the language of Calvin, breaks in abruptly upon the order of his discourse, and exclaims that what he had said, and what he was about to say, would be scarcely credited by anyone. Prelimmary to his exaltation, and to the honors which would be conferred on him, he would be rejected and despised. The word 'report' (שׁמוּעה shemû‛âh) denotes properly that which is heard, tidings, message, news. Margin, 'Hearing' or 'doctrine.' The Septuagint renders it, Ἀκοή Akoē - 'Rumour,' 'message.' It refers to the annunciation, message, or communication which had been made respecting the Messiah. 'The speaker here is Isaiah, and the word 'our' refers to the fact that the message of Isaiah and of the other prophets had been alike rejected. He groups himself with the other prophets, and says that the annunciation which they had made of the Redeemer had been disregarded The interrogative form is often assumed when it is designed to express a truth with emphasis; and the idea is, therefore, that the message in regard to the Messiah had been rejected, and that almost none had credited and embraced it.
And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? - The arm is that by which we execute a purpose, and is often used as the emblem of power (see the notes at Isa 33:2; Isa 40:10). Here it denotes the omnipotence or power of God, which would be exhibited through the Messiah. 'The sense is, 'Who has perceived the power evinced in the work of the Redeemer? To whom is that power manifested which is to be put forth through him, and in connection with his work?' It refers not so much, as it seems to me, to his power in working miracles, as to the omnipotence evinced in rescuing sinners from destruction. In the New Testament, the gospel is not unfrequently called 'the power of God' Rom 1:16; Co1 1:18, for it is that by which God displays his power in saving people. The idea here is, that comparatively few would be brought under that power, and be benefited by it; that is, in the times, and under the preaching of the Messiah. It is to be remembered that the scene of this vision is laid in the midst of the work of the Redeemer. The prophet sees him a sufferer, despised and rejected. He sees that few come to him, and embrace him as their Saviour. He recalls the 'report' and the announcement which he and other prophets had made respecting him; he remembers the record which had been made centuries before respecting the Messiah; and he asks with deep emotion, as if present when the Redeemer lived and preached, who had credited what he and the other prophets had said of him. The mass had rejected it all. The passage, therefore, had its fulfillment in the events connected with the ministry of the Redeemer, and in the fact that he was rejected by so many. The Redeemer was more successful in his work as a preacher than is commonly supposed, but still it is true that by the mass of the nation he was despised, and that the announcement which had been made of his true character and work was rejected.
For he shall grow up before him - In this verse, the prophet describes the humble appearance of the Messiah, and the fact that there was nothing in his personal aspect that corresponded to the expectations that bad been formed of him; nothing that should lead them to desire him as their expected deliverer, but everything that could induce them to reject him. He would be of so humble an origin, and with so little that was magnificent in his external appear ance, that the nation would despise him. The word rendered 'he shall grow up' (ויעל vaya‛al, from עלה ‛âlâh), means properly, "to go up, to ascend." Here it evidently applies to the Redeemer as growing up in the manner of a shoot or sucker that springs out of the earth. It means that he would start, as it were, from a decayed stock or stump, as a shoot springs up from a root that is apparently dead. It does not refer to his manner of life before his entrance on the public work of the ministry; not to the mode and style of his education; but to his starting as it were out of a dry and sterile soil where any growth could not be expected, or from a stump or stock that was apparently dead (see the notes at Isa 11:1). The phrase 'before him' (לפניו lepânâyv), refers to Yahweh. He would be seen and observed by him, although unknown to the world. The eyes of people would not regard him as the Messiah while he was growing up, but Yahweh would, and his eye would be continually upon him.
As a tender plant - The word used here (יונק yônēq, from ינק yânaq, to suck, Job 3:12; Sol 8:1; Joe 2:16), may be applied either to a suckling, a sucking child Deu 32:25; Psa 8:3, or to a sucker, a sprout, a shoot of a tree Job 8:16; Job 14:7; Job 15:30; Eze 17:22; Hos 14:7. Jerome here renders it, Virgultum. The Septuagint renders it, Ἀνηγγείλαμεν ὡς παιδίον ἐναντίον αὐτοῦ anēngeilamen hōs paidion enantion autou - 'We have made proclamation as a child before him.' But what idea they attached to it, it is impossible now to say; and equally so to determine how they came to make such a translation. The Chaldee also, leaving the idea that it refers to the Messiah, renders it, 'And the righteous shall be magnified before him as branches which flourish, and as the tree which sends its roots by the fountains of water; thus shall the holy nation be increased in the land.' The Syriac translates it, 'He shall grow up before him as an infant.' The idea in the passage is plain. It is, that the Messiah would spring up as from an ancient and decayed stock, like a tender shoot or sucker. He would be humble and unpretending in his origin, and would be such that they who had expected a splendid prince would be led to overlook and despise him.
And as a root - (וכשׁרשׁ vekashoresh). The word 'root' here is evidently used by synecdoche for the sprout that starts up from a root (see the notes at Isa 11:10, where the word is used in the same sense).
Out of a dry ground - In a barren waste, or where there is no moisture. Such a sprout or shrub is small, puny, and withered up. Such shrubs spring up in deserts, where they are stinted for want of moisture, and they are most striking objects to represent that which is humble and unattractive in its personal appearance. The idea here is, that the Messiah would spring from an ancient family decayed, but in whose root, so to speak, there would be life, as there is remaining life in the stump of a tree that is fallen down; but that there would be nothing in his external appearance that would attract attention, or meet the expectations of the nation. Even then he would not be like a plant of vigorous growth supplied with abundant rains, and growing in a rich and fertile soil, but he would be like the stinted growth of the sands of the desert. Can anything be more strikingly expressive of the actual appearance of the Redeemer, as compared with the expectation of the Jews? Can there be found anywhere a more striking fulfillment of a prophecy than this? And how will the infidel answer the argument thus furnished for the fact that Isaiah was inspired, and that his record was true?
He hath no form - That is, no beauty. He has not the beautiful form which was anticipated; the external glory which it was supposed he would assume. On the meaning of the word 'form,' see the notes at Isa 52:14. It is several times used in the sense of beautiful form or figure (Gen 29:17; Gen 39:6; Gen 41:18; Deu 21:11; Est 2:17; compare Sa1 16:18). Here it means the same as beautiful form or appearance, and refers to his state of abasement rather than to his own personal beauty. There is no evidence that in person he was in any way deformed, or otherwise than beautiful, except as excessive grief may have changed his natural aspect (see the note at Isa 52:14).
Nor comeliness - (הדר hâdâr). This word is translated honor, glory, majesty Deu 33:17; Psa 29:4; Psa 149:9; Dan 11:20; excellency Isa 35:2; beauty Pro 20:29; Psa 110:3; Ch2 20:21. It may be applied to the countenance, to the general aspect, or to the ornaments or apparel of the person. Here it refers to the appearance of the Messiah, as having nothing that was answerable to their expectations. He had no robes of royalty; no diadem sparkling on his brow; no splendid retinue; no gorgeous array.
And when we shall see him - This should be connected with the previous words, and should be translated, 'that we should regard him, or attentively look upon him.' The idea is, that there was in his external appearance no such beauty as to lead them to look with interest and attention upon him; nothing that should attract them, as people are attracted by the dazzling and splendid objects of this world. If they saw him, they immediately looked away from him as if he were unworthy of their regard.
There is no beauty that we should desire him - He does not appear in the form which we had anticipated. He does not come with the regal pomp and splendor which it was supposed he would assmne. He is apparently of humble rank; has few attendants, and has disappointed wholly the expectation of the nation. In regard to the personal appearance of the Redeemer, it is remarkable that the New Testament has given us no information. Not a hint is dropped in reference to his height of stature, or his form; respecting the color of his hair, his eyes, or his complexion. In all this, on which biographers are usually so full and particular, the evangelists are wholly silent. There was evidently design in this; and the purpose was probably to prevent any painting, statuary, or figure of the Redeemer, that would have any claim to being regarded as correct or true. As it stands in the New Testament, there is lust the veil of obscurity thrown over this whole subject which is most favorable for the contemplation of the incarnate Deity. We are told flint he was a man; we are told also that he was God. The image to the mind's eye is as obscure in the one case as the other; and in both, we are directed to his moral beauty, his holiness, and benevolence, as objects of contemplation, rather than to his external appearance or form.
It may be added that there is no authentic information in regard to his appearance that has come down to us by tradition. All the works of sculptors and painters in attempting to depict his form are the mere works of fancy, and are undoubtedly as unlike the glorious reality as they are contrary to the spirit and intention of the Bible. There is, indeed, a letter extant which is claimed by some to have been written by Publius Lentulus, to the Emperor Tiberius, in the time when the Saviour lived, and which gives a description of his personal appearance. As this is the only legend of antiquity which even claims to be a description of his person, and as it is often printed, and is regarded as a curiosity, it may not be improper here to present it in a note. This letter is pronounced by Calmer to be spurious, and it has been abundantly proved to be so by Prof. Robinson (see Bib. Rep. vol. ii. pp. 367-393). The main arguments against its anthenticity, and which entirely settle the question, are:
1. The discrepancies and contradictions which exist in the various copies.
2. The fact that in the time of the Saviour, when the epistle purports to have been written, it can be demonstrated that no such man as Publius Lentulus was governor of Judea, or had any such office there, as is claimed for him in the inscriptions to the epistle.
3. That for fifteen hundred years no such epistle is quoted or referred to by any writer - a fact which could not have occurred if any such epistle had been in existence.
4. That the style of the epistle is not such as an enlightened Roman would have used, but is such as an ecclesiastic would have employed.
5. That the contents of the epistle are such as a Roman would not have used of one who was a Jew.
See these arguments presented in detail in the place above referred to. It may be added, that this is the only pretended account which bas come down to us respecting the personal appearance of the Saviour, except the fable that Christ sent his portrait to Abgar, king of Edessa, in reply to a letter which he had sent requesting him to come and heal him; and the equally fabulous legend, that the impression of his countenance was left upon the handkerchief of the holy Veronica.
He is despised - This requires no explanation; and it needs no comment to show that it was fulfilled. The Redeemer was eminently the object of contempt and scorn alike by the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Romans. In his life on earth it was so; in his death it was still so; and since then, his name and person have been extensively the object of contempt. Nothing is a more striking fulfillment of this than the conduct of the Jews at the present day. The very name of Jesus of Nazareth excites contempt; and they join with their fathers who rejected him in heaping on him every term indicative of scorn.
Rejected of men - This phrase is full of meaning, and in three words states the whole history of man in regard to his treatment of the Redeemer. The name 'The Rejected of Men,' will express all the melancholy history; rejected by the Jews; by the rich; the great and the learned; by the mass of people of every grade, and age, and rank. No prophecy was ever more strikingly fulfilled; none could condense more significancy into few words. In regard to the exact sense of the phrase, interpreters have varied. Jerome renders it, Novissium virorum - 'The last of men;' that is, the most abject and contemptible of mankind. The Septuagint, 'His appearance is dishonored (ἄτιμον atimon) and defective (ἐκλειπον ekleipon) more than the sons of men.' The Chaldee, 'He is indeed despised, but he shall take away the glory of all kings; they are infirm and sad, as if exposed to all calamities and sorrows.' Some render it, 'Most abject of men,' and they refer to Job 19:14, where the same word is used to denote those friends who forsake the unfortunate.
The word חדל châdêl used here, is derived from the verb חדל châdal, which means "to cease, to leave off, to desist"; derived, says Gesenius (Lexicon), from the idea of becoming languid, flaccid; and thence transferred to the act of ceasing from labor. It means usually, to cease, to desist from, to leave, to let alone (see Kg1 22:6-15; Job 7:15; Job 10:20; Isa 2:22). According to Gesenius, the word here means to be left, to be destitute, or forsaken; and the idea is, that be was forsaken by people. According to Hengstenberg (Christol.) it means 'the most abject of men,' he who ceases from men, who ceases to belong to the number of men; that is, who is the most abject of men. Castellio renders it, Minus quash homo - 'Less than a man.' Junius and Tremellius, Abjectissimus virorum - 'The most abject of men.' Grotius, 'Rejected of men.' Symmachus, Ἐλάχιστος ἀνδρῶν Elachistos andrōn - 'the least of men.' The idea is, undoubtedly, somehow that of ceasing from human beings, or from being regarded as belonging to mankind.
There was a ceasing, or a withdrawing of that which usually pertains to man, and which belongs to him. And the thought probably is, that he was not only 'despised,' but that there was an advance on that - there was a ceasing to treat him as if he had human feelings, and was in any way entitled to human fellowship and sympathy. It does not refer, therefore, so much to the active means employed to reject him, as to the fact that he was regarded as cut off from man; and the idea is not essentially different from this, that he was the most abject and vile of mortals in the estimation of others; so vile as not to be deemed worthy of the treatment due to the lowest of men. This idea has been substantially expressed in the Syriac translation.
A man of sorrows - What a beautiful expression! A man who was so sad and sorrowful; whose life was so full of sufferings, that it might be said that that was the characteristic of the man. A similar phraseology occurs in Pro 29:1, 'He that being often reproved,' in the margin, 'a man of reproofs;' in the Hebrew, 'A man of chastisements,' that is, a man who is often chastised. Compare Dan 10:11 : 'O Daniel, a man greatly beloved,' Margin, as in Hebrew, 'A man of desires; that is, a man greatly desired. Here, the expression means that his life was characterized by sorrows. How remarkably this was fulfilled in the life of the Redeemer, it is not necessary to attempt to show.
And acquainted with grief - Hebrew, חלי וידוע viydûa‛ choliy - 'And knowing grief.' The word rendered 'grief' means usually sickness, disease Deu 7:15; Deu 28:61; Isa 1:5; but it also means anxiety, affliction Ecc 5:16; and then any evil or calamity Ecc 6:2. Many of the old interpreters explain it as meaning, that he was known or distinguished by disease; that is, affected by it in a remarkable manner. So Symm. Γνωστός νόσῳ Gnōstos nosō. Jerome (the Vulgate) renders it, Scientem infirmitatem. The Septuagint renders the whole clause, 'A man in affliction (ἐν πληγῇ en plēgē), and knowing to bear languor, or disease' (εἰδὼ; φέρειν μαλακίαν eidōs pherein malakian). But if the word here means disease, it is only a figurative designation of severe sufferings both of body and of soul. Hengstenberg, Koppe, and Ammon, suppose that the figure is taken from the leprosy, which was not only one of the most severe of all diseases, but was in a special manner regarded as a divine judgment. They suppose that many of the expressions which follow may be explained with reference to this (compare Heb 4:15). The idea is, that he was familiar with sorrow and calamity. It does not mean, as it seems to me, that he was to be himself sick and diseased; but that he was to be subject to various kinds of calamity, and that it was to be a characteristic of his life that he was familiar with it. He was intimate with it. He knew it personally; he knew it in others. He lived in the midst of scenes of sorrow, and be became intimately acquainted with its various forms, and with its evils. There is no evidence that the Redeemer was himself sick at any time - which is remarkable - but there is evidence in abundance that he was familiar with all kinds of sorrow, and that his own life was a life of grief.
And we hid as it were our faces from him - There is here great variety of interpretation and of translation. The margin reads, 'As an hiding of faces from him,' or 'from us,' or, 'He hid as it were his face from us.' The Hebrew is literally, 'And as the hiding of faces from him, or from it;' and Hengstenberg explains it as meaning, 'He was as an hiding of the face before it.' that is, as a thing or person before whom a man covers his face, because he cannot bear the disgusting sight. Jerome (the Vulgate) renders it, 'His face was as it were hidden and despised.' The Septuagint, 'For his countenance was turned away' (ἀπέστρυπταὶ apestraptai). The Chaldee, 'And when he took away his countenance of majesty from us, we were despised and reputed as nothing.' Interpreters have explained it in various ways.
1. 'He was as one who hides his face before us;' alluding, as they suppose, to the Mosaic law, which required lepers to cover their faces Lev 13:45, or to the custom of covering the face in mourning, or for shame.
2. Others explain it as meaning, 'as one before whom is the covering of the face, that is, before whom a man covers the face from shame or disgust. So Gesenius.
3. Others, 'He was as one causing to conceal the face,' that is, he induced others to cover the face before him. His sufferings were so terrible as to induce them to turn away. So John H. Michaelis.
The idea seems to be, that he was as one from whom people hide their faces, or turn away. This might either arise from a sight of his sufferings, as being so offensive that they would turn away in pain - as in the case of a leper; or it might be, that he was so much an object of contempt, and so unlike what they expected, that they would hide their faces and turn away in scorn. This latter I suppose to be the meaning; and that the idea is, that he was so unlike what they had expected, that they hid their faces in affected or real contempt.
And we esteemed him not - That is, we esteemed him as nothing; we set no value on him. In order to give greater energy to a declaration, the Hebrews frequently express a thing positively and then negatively. The prophet had said that they held him in positive contempt; he here says that they did not regard him as worthy of their notice. He here speaks in the name of his nation - as one of the Jewish people. 'We, the Jews, the nation to whom he was sent, did not esteem him as the Messiah, or as worthy of our affection or regard.'
Surely - This is an exceedingly important verse, and is one that is attended with considerable difficulty, from the manner in which it is quoted in the New Testament. The general sense, as it stands in the Hebrew, is not indeed difficult. It is immediately connected in signification with the previous verse. The meaning is, that those who had despised and rejected the Messiah, had greatly erred in condemning him on account of his sufferings and humiliation. 'We turned away from him in horror and contempt. We supposed that he was suffering on account of some great sin of his own. But in this we erred. It was not for his sins but for ours. It was not that he Was smitten of God for his own sins - as if he had been among the worst of mortals - but it was because he had taken our sins, and was suffering for them. The very thing therefore that gave offence to us, and which made us turn away from him, constituted the most important part of his work, and was really the occasion of highest gratitude. It is an acknowledgment that they had erred, and a confession of that portion of the nation which would be made sensible of their error, that they had judged improperly of the character of the sufferer. The word rendered 'surely' (אכן 'âkēn, Vulgate, vere), is sometimes a particle strongly affirming, meaning truly, of a certain truth Gen 28:16; Exo 2:14; Jer 8:8. Sometimes it is an adversative particle, meaning but yet Psa 31:23; Isa 49:24. It is probably used in that sense here, meaning, that though he was despised by them, yet he was worthy of their esteem and confidence, for he had borne their griefs. He was not suffering for any sins of his own, but in a cause which, so far from rendering him an object of contempt, made him worthy of their highest regard.
He hath borne - Hebrew, נשׂא nâs'â'. Vulgate, Tulit. Septuagint, φερει pherei - 'He bears.' Chald. 'He prayed (יבעי yibe‛ēy) for, or on account of our sins.' Castilio, Tulit ac toleravit. In these versions, the sense is that of sustaining, bearing, upholding, carrying, as when one removes a burden from the shoulders of another, and places it on his own. The word נשׂא nâs'a' means properly "to take up, to lift, to raise" Gen 7:17, 'The waters increased, and lifted up the ark;' Gen 29:1, 'And Jacob lifted up his feet (see the margin) and came.' Hence, it is applied to lifting up a standard Jer 4:6; Jer 50:2 : to lifting up the hand Deu 32:40; to lifting up the head Job 10:15; Kg2 25:27; to lifting up the eyes (Gen 13:10, et soepe); to lifting up the voice, etc. It then means to bear, to carry, as an infant in the arms Isa 46:3; as a tree does its fruit Eze 17:8, or as a field its produce Psa 70:3; Gen 12:6.
Hence, to endure, suffer, permit Job 21:3. 'Bear with me, suffer me and I will speak.' Hence, to bear the sin of anyone, to take upon one's self the suffering which is due to sin (see the notes at Isa 53:12 of this chapter; compare Lev 5:1, Lev 5:17; Lev 17:16; Lev 20:19; Lev 24:15; Num 5:31; Num 9:13; Num 14:34; Num 30:16; Eze 18:19-20). Hence, to bear chastisement, or punishment Job 34:31 : 'I have borne chastisement, I will not offend anymore.' It is also used in the sense of taking away the sin of anyone, expiating, or procuring pardon Gen 50:17; Lev 10:17; Job 7:21; Psa 33:5; Psa 85:3. In all cases there is the idea of lifting, sustaining, taking up, and conveying away, as by carrying a burden. It is not simply removing, but it is removing somehow by lifting, or carrying; that is, either by an act of power, or by so taking them on one's own self as to sustain and carry them. If applied to sin, it means that a man must bear the burden of the punishment of his own sin, or that the suffering which is due to sin is taken up and borne by another.
If applied to diseases, as in Mat 8:17, it must mean that he, as it were, lifted them up and bore them away. It cannot mean that the Saviour literally took those sicknesses on himself, and became sick in the place of the sick, became a leper in the place of the leper, or was himself possessed with an evil spirit in the place of those who were possessed Mat 8:16, but it must mean that he took them away by his power, and, as it were, lifted them up, and removed them. So when it is said Isa 53:12 that he 'bare the sins of many,' it cannot mean literally that he took those sins on himself in any such sense as that he became a sinner, but only that he so took them upon himself as to remove from the sinner the exposure to punishment, and to bear himself whatever was necessary as a proper expression of the evil of sin. Peter undoubtedly makes an allusion to this passage Isa 53:12 when he says Pe1 2:24, 'Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree' (see the notes at Isa 53:12). Matthew Mat 8:17 has translated it by ἔλαβε elabe ("he took"), a word which does not differ in signification essentially from that used by Isaiah. It is almost exactly the same word which is used by Symmachus (ἀνελαβε anelabe).
Our griefs - The word used here (חלי chăliy) means properly sickness, disease, anxiety, affliction. It does not refer to sins, but to sufferings. It is translated 'sickness' Deu 28:61; Deu 7:15; Ch2 21:15; Kg1 17:17; 'disease' Ecc 6:2; Ch2 21:18; Ch2 16:12; Exo 15:26; 'grief' (Isa 53:3-4; compare Jer 16:4). It is never in our version rendered sin, and never Used to denote sin. 'In ninety-three instances,' says Dr. Magee (On atonement and Sacrifice, p. 229, New York Ed. 1813), 'in which the word here translated (by the Septuagint) ἀμαρτίας hamartias, or its kindred verb, is found in the Old Testament in any sense that is not entirely foreign from the passage before us, there occurs but this one in which the word is so rendered; it being in all other cases expressed by ἀσθένεια astheneia, μαλακία malakia, or some word denoting bodily disease.' 'That the Jews,' he adds, 'considered this passage as referring to bodily diseases, appears from Whitby, and Lightfoot. Hor. Heb. on Mat 8:17.' It is rendered in the Vulgate, Languores - 'Our infirmities.' In the Chaldee, 'He prayed for our sins.' Castellio renders it, Morbos - 'Diseases;' and so Junius and Tremellius. The Septuagint has rendered it in this place: Ἁμαρτίας Hamartias - 'Sins;' though, from what Dr. Kennicott has advanced in his Diss. Gen. Section 79, Dr. Magee thinks there can be no doubt that this is a corruption which has crept into the later copies of the Greek. A few Greek manuscripts of the Septuagint also read it ἀσθενείας astheneias, and one copy reads μαλακίας malakias.
Matthew Mat 8:17 has rendered it, ἀσθενείας astheneias - 'infirmities,' and intended no doubt to apply it to the fact that the Lord Jesus healed diseases, and there can be no doubt that Matthew has used the passage, not by way of accommodation, but in the true sense in which it is used by Isaiah; and that it means that the Messiah would take upon himself the infirmities of people, and would remove their sources of grief. It does not refer here to the fact that he would take their sins. That is stated in other places Isa 53:6, Isa 53:12. But it means that he was so afflicted, that he seemed to have taken upon himself the sicknesses and sorrows of the world; and taking them upon himself he would bear them away. I understand this, therefore, as expressing the twofold idea that he became deeply afflicted for us, and that. being thus afflicted for us, he was able to carry away our sorrows. In part this would be done by his miraculous power in healing diseases, as mentioned by Matthew; in part by the influence of his religion, in enabling people to bear calamity, and in drying up the fountains of sorrow. Matthew, then, it is believed, has quoted this passage exactly in the sense in which it was used by Isaiah; and if so, it should not be adduced to prove that he bore the sins of men - true as is that doctrine, and certainly as it has been affirmed in other parts of this chapter.
And carried - Hebrew, (סבל sābal). This word means properly to carry, as a burden; to be laden with, etc. Isa 46:4, Isa 46:7; Gen 49:15. It is applied to carrying burdens Kg1 5:15; Ch2 2:2; Neh 4:10, Neh 4:17; Ecc 12:5. The verb with its derivative noun occurs in twenty-six places in the Old Testament, twenty-three of which relate to carrying burdens, two others relate to sins, and the other Lam 5:7 is rendered, 'We have borne their iniquities.' The primary idea is undoubtedly that of carrying a burden; lifting it, and bearing it in this manner.
Our sorrows - The word used here (מכאב make'ob, from כאב kâ'ab, "to have pain, sorrow, to grieve, or be sad"), means properly "pain, sorrow, grief." In the Old Testament it is rendered 'sorrow' and 'sorrows' Ecc 1:18; Lam 1:12-18; Isa 65:14; Jer 45:3; Jer 30:15; 'grief' Job 16:6; Psa 69:26; Ch2 6:29; 'pain' Job 33:19; Jer 15:18; Jer 51:8. Perhaps the proper difference between this word and the word translated griefs is, that this refers to pains of the mind, that of the body; this to anguish, anxiety, or trouble of the soul; that to bodily infirmity and disease. Kennicott affirms that the word here used is to be regarded as applicable to griefs and distresses of the mind. 'It is evidently so interpreted,' says Dr. Magee (p. 220), 'in Psa 32:10, 'Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;' and again, Psa 69:29, 'But I am poor and sorrowful;' and again, Pro 14:13, 'The heart is sorrowful;' and Ecc 1:18, 'He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow;' and so Ecc 2:18; Isa 65:14; Jer 30:15.' Agreeably to this, the word is translated by Lowth, in our common version, and most of the early English versions, 'Sorrows.' The Vulgate renders it, Dolores: the Septuagint, 'For us he is in sorrow' (ὀδυνᾶται odunatai), that is, is deeply grieved, or afflicted.
The phrase, therefore, properly seems to mean that he took upon himself the mental sorrows of people. He not only took their diseases, and bore them away, but he also took or bore their mental griefs. That is, he subjected himself to the kind of mental sorrow which was needful in order to remove them. The word which is used by Matthew Mat 8:17, in the translation of this, is νόσου nosou. This word( νόσος nosos) means properly sickness, disease Mat 4:23-24; Mat 9:35; but it is also used in a metaphorical sense for pain, sorrow, evil (Rob. Lex.) In this sense it is probable that it was designed to be used by Matthew. He refers to the general subject of human ills; to the sicknesses, sorrows, pains, and trials of life; and he evidently means, in accordance with Isaiah, that he took them on himself. He was afflicted for them. He undertook the work of removing them. Part he removed by direct miracle - as sickness; part he removed by removing the cause - by taking away sin by the sacrifice of himself - thus removing the source of all ills; and in regard to all, he furnished the means of removing them by his own example and instructions, and by the great truths which he revealed as topics of consolation and support. On this important passage, see Magee, On atonement and Sacrifice, pp. 227-262.
Yet we did esteem him stricken - Lowth, 'Yet we thought him judicially stricken.' Noyes, 'We esteemed him stricken from above.' Jerome (the Vulgate), 'We thought him to be a leper.' The Septuagint renders it, 'We considered him being in trouble (or in labor, ἐν πόνῳ en poiō) and under a stroke (or in a plague or divine judgment, ἐν πληγή en plēgē), and in affliction.' Chaldee, 'We thought him wounded, smitten from the presence of God, and afflicted.' The general idea is, that they thought he was subjected to great and severe punishment by God for his sins or regarded him as an object of divine disapprobation. They inferred that one who was so abject and so despised; who suffered so much and so long, must have been abandoned by God to judicial sufferings, and that he was experiencing the proper result and effect of his own sins. The word rendered 'stricken,' (נגוע nâgû‛a) means properly "struck," or "smitten."
It is applied sometimes to the plague, or the leprosy, as an act by which God smites suddenly, and destroys people Gen 12:17; Exo 11:1; Lev 13:3, Lev 13:9, Lev 13:20; Sa1 6:9; Job 19:21; Psa 73:5, and very often elsewhere. Jerome explains it here by the word leprous; and many of the ancient Jews derived from this word the idea that the Messiah would be afflicted with the leprosy. Probably the idea which the word would convey to those who were accustomed to read the Old Testament in Hebrew would be, that he was afflicted or smitten in some way corresponding to the plague or the leprosy; and as these were regarded as special and direct divine judgments, the idea would be that he would be smitten judicially by God. or be exposed to his displeasure and his curse. It is to be particularly observed here that the prophet does not say that he would thus be in fact smitten, accursed, and abandoned by God; but only that he would be thus esteemed, or thought, namely, by the Jews who rejected him and put him to death. It is not here said that he was such. Indeed, it is very strongly implied that he was not, since the prophet here is introducing them as confessing their error, and saying that they were mistaken. He was, say they, bearing our sorrows, not suffering for his own sins.
Smitten of God - Not that he was actually smitten of God, but we esteemed him so. We treated him as one whom we regarded as being under the divine malediction, and we therefore rejected him. We esteemed him to be smitten by God, and we acted as if such an one should be rejected and contemned. The word used here (נכה nâkâh) means "to smite, to strike," and is sometimes employed to denote divine judgment, as it is here. Thus it means to smite with blindness Gen 19:11; with the pestilence Num 14:12; with emerods Sa1 5:6; with destruction, spoken of a land Mal 4:6; of the river Exo 7:25 when he turned it into blood. In all such instances, it means that Yahweh had inflicted a curse. And this is the idea here. They regarded him as under the judicial inflictions of God, and as suffering what his sins deserved. The foundation of this opinion was laid in the belief so common among the Jews, that great sufferings always argued and supposed great guilt, and were proof of the divine displeasure. This question constitutes the inquiry in the Book of Job, and was the point in dispute between Job and friends.
And afflicted - We esteemed him to be punished by God. In each of these clauses the words, 'For his own sins,' are to be understood. We regarded him as subjected to these calamities on account of his own sins. It did not occur to us that he could be suffering thus for the sins of others. The fact that the Jews attempted to prove that Jesus was a blasphemer, and deserved to die, shows the fulfillment of this, and the estimate which they formed of him (see Luk 23:34; Joh 16:3; Act 3:17; Co1 2:8).
But he was wounded - Margin, 'Tormented.' Jerome and the Septuagint also render this, 'He was wounded.' Junius and Tremellius, 'He was affected with grief.' The Chaldee has given a singular paraphrase of it, showing how confused was the view of the whole passage in the mind of that interpreter. 'And he shall build the house of the sanctuary which was defiled on account of our sins, and which was delivered on account of our iniquities. And in his doctrine, peace shall be multiplied to us. And when we obey his words, our sins shall be remitted to us.' The Syriac renders it in a remarkable manner, 'He is slain on account of our sins,' thus showing that it was a common belief that the Messiah would be violently put to death. The word rendered 'wounded' (מחלל mecholâl), is a Pual participle, from חלל châlal, to bore through, to perforate, to pierce; hence, to wound Sa1 31:3; Ch1 10:3; Eze 28:9. There is probably the idea of painful piercing, and it refers to some infliction of positive wounds on the body, and not to mere mental sorrows, or to general humiliation. The obvious idea would be that there would be some act of piercing, some penetrating wound that would endanger or take life. Applied to the actual sufferings of the Messiah, it refers undoubtedly to the piercing of his hands, his feet, and his side. The word 'tormented,' in the margin, was added by our translators because the Hebrew word might be regarded as derived from חול chûl, to writhe, to be tormented, to be pained - a word not unfrequently applied to the pains of parturition. But it is probable that it is rather to be regarded as derived from חלל châlal, "to pierce, or to wound."
For our transgressions - The prophet here places himself among the people for whom the Messiah suffered these things, and says that he was not suffering for his own sins, but on account of theirs. The preposition 'for' (מן min) here answers to the Greek διά dia, on account of, and denotes the cause for which he suffered and means, even according to Gesenius (Lex.), here, 'the ground or motive on account of, or because of which anything is done.' Compare Deu 7:7; Jdg 5:11; Est 5:9; Psa 68:30; Sol 3:8. It is strikingly parallel to the passage in Rom 4:25 : 'Who was delivered for (διά dia) our offences.' Compare Co2 5:21; Heb 9:28; Pe1 2:24. Here the sense is, that the reason why he thus suffered was, that we were transgressors. All along the prophet keeps up the idea that it was not on account of any sin of which he was guilty that he thus suffered, but it was for the sins of others - an idea which is everywhere exhibited in the New Testament.
He was bruised - The word used here (דכא dâkâ') means properly to be broken to pieces, to be bruised, to be crushed Job 6:9; Psa 72:4. Applied to mind, it means to break down or crush by calamities and trials; and by the use of the word here, no doubt, the most severe inward and outward sufferings are designated. The Septuagint renders it, Μεμαλάκιστα Memalakista - 'He was rendered languid,' or feeble. The same idea occurs in the Syriac translation. The meaning is, that he was under such a weight of sorrows on account of our sins, that he was, as it were, crushed to the earth. How true this was of the Lord Jesus it is not necessary here to pause to show.
The chastisement of our peace - That is, the chastisement by which our peace is effected or secured was laid upon him; or, he took it upon himself,' and bore it, in order that we might have peace. Each word here is exceedingly important, in order to a proper estimate of the nature of the work performed by the Redeemer. The word 'chastisement' (מוּסר mûsâr), properly denotes the correction, chastisement, or punishment inflicted by parents on their children, designed to amend their faults Pro 22:15; Pro 23:13. It is applied also to the discipline and authority of kings Job 22:18; and to the discipline or correction of God Job 5:17; Hos 5:2. Sometimes it means admonition or instruction, such as parents give to children, or God to human beings. It is well rendered by the Septuagint by Παιδεία Paideia; by Jerome, Disciplina. The word does not of necessity denote punishment, though it is often used in that sense.
It is properly that which corrects, whether it be by admonition, counsel, punishment, or suffering. Here it cannot properly mean punishment - for there is no punishment where there is no guilt, and the Redeemer had done no sin; but it means that he took upon himself the sufferings which would secure the peace of those for whom he died - those which, if they could have been endured by themselves, would have effected their peace with God. The word peace means evidently their peace with God; reconciliation with their Creator. The work of religion in the soul is often represented as peace; and the Redeemer is spoken of as the great agent by whom that is secured. 'For he is our peace' (Eph 2:14-15, Eph 2:17; compare Act 10:36; Rom 5:1; Rom 10:15). The phrase 'upon him,' means that the burden by which the peace of people was effected was laid upon him, and that he bore it. It is parallel with the expressions which speak of his bearing it, carrying it, etc. And the sense of the whole is, that he endured the sorrows, whatever they were, which were needful to secure our peace with God.
And with his stripes - Margin, 'Bruise.' The word used here in Hebrew (חבורה chabbûrâh) means properly stripe, weal, bruise, that is, the mark or print of blows on the skin. Greek Μώλωπι Mōlōpi; Vulgate, Livore. On the meaning of the Hebrew word, see the notes at Isa 1:6. It occurs in the following places, and is translated by stripe, and stripes (Exo 21:25, bis); bruises Isa 1:6; hurt Gen 4:23; blueness Pro 20:30; wounds Psa 38:5; and spots, as of a leopard Jer 13:23. The proper idea is the weal or wound made by bruising; the mark designated by us when we speak of its being 'black and blue.' It is not a flesh wound; it does not draw blood; but the blood and other humors are collected under the skin. The obvious and natural idea conveyed by the word here is, that the individual referred to would be subjected to some treatment that would cause such a weal or stripe; that is, that he would be beaten, or scourged. How literally this was applicable to the Lord Jesus, it is unnecessary to attempt to prove (see Mat 27:26). It may be remarked here, that this could not be mere conjecture How could Isaiah, seven hundred years before it occurred, conjecture that the Messiah would be scourged and bruised? It is this particularity of prediction, compared with the literal fulfillment, which furnishes the fullest demonstration that the prophet was inspired. In the prediction nothing is vague and general. All is particular and minute, as if he saw what was done, and the description is as minutely accurate as if he was describing what was actually occurring before his eyes.
We are healed - literally, it is healed to us; or healing has happened to us. The healing here referred to, is spiritual healing, or healing from sin. Pardon of sin, and restoration to the favor of God, are not unfrequently represented as an act of healing. The figure is derived from the fact that awakened and convicted sinners are often represented as crushed, broken, bruised by the weight of their transgressions, and the removal of the load of sin is repesented as an act of healing. 'I said, O Lord, be merciful unto me; heal my soul, for I have sinned againt thee' Psa 41:4. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed' Psa 6:2. 'Who forgiveth all thine, iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases Psa 103:3. The idea here is, that the Messiah would be scourged; and that it would be by that scourging that health would be imparted to our souls.
It would be in our place, and in our stead; and it would be designed to have the same effect in recovering us, as though it had been inflicted on ourselves. And will it not do it? Is it not a fact that it has such an effect? Is not a man as likely to be recovered from a course of sin and folly, who sees another suffer in his place what he ought himself to suffer, as though he was punished himself? Is not a wayward and dissipated son quite as likely to be recovered to a course of virtue by seeing the sufferings which his career of vice causes to a father, a mother, or a sister, as though he himself When subjected to severe punishment? When such a son sees that he is bringing down the gray hairs of his father with sorrow to the grave; when he sees that he is breaking the heart of the mother that bore him; when he sees a sister bathed in tears, or in danger of being reduced to poverty or shame by his course, it will be far more likely to reclaim him than would be personal suffering, or the prospect of poverty, want, and an early death. And it is on this principle that the plan of salvation is founded. We shall be more certainly reclaimed by the voluntary sufferings of the innocent in our behalf, than we should be by being personally punished. Punishment would make no atonement, and would bring back no sinner to God. But the suffering of the Redeemer in behalf of mankind is adapted to save the world, and will in fact arrest, reclaim, and redeem all who shall ever enter into heaven.
(Sin is not only a crime for which we were condemned to die, and which Christ purchased for us the pardon of, but it is a disease which tends directly to the death of our souls, and which Christ provided for the cure of. By his stripes, that is, the sufferings he underwent, he purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God, to mortify our corruptions, which are the distempers of our souls; and to put our souls in a good state of health, that they may be fit to serve God, and prepare to enjoy him. And by the doctrine of Christ's cross, and the powerful arguments it furnisheth us with against sin, the dominion of sin is broken in us, anal we are fortified against that which feeds the disease - Henry.)
All we, like sheep, have gone astray - This is the penitent confession of those for whom he suffered. It is an acknowledgment that they were going astray from God; and the reason why the Redeemer suffered was, that the race had wandered away, and that Yahweh had laid on him the iniquity of all. Calvin says, 'In order that he might more deeply impress on the minds of people the benefits derived from the death of Christ, he shows how necessary was that healing of which he had just made mention. There is here an elegant antithesis. For in ourselves we were scattered; in Christ we are collected together; by nature we wander, and are driven headlong toward destruction; in Christ we find the way by which we are led to the gate of life.' The condition of the race without a Redeemer is here elegantly compared to a flock without a shepherd, which wanders where it chooses, and which is exposed to all dangers. This image is not unfrequently used to denote estrangement from God Pe1 2:25 : 'For ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.' Compare Num 27:17; Kg1 22:17; Psa 119:176; Eze 34:5; Zac 10:2; Mat 9:36. Nothing could more strikingly represent the condition of human beings. They had wandered from God. They were following their own paths, and pursuing their own pleasures. They were without a protector, and they were exposed on every hand to danger.
We have turned every one to his own way - We had all gone in the path which we chose. We were like sheep which have no shepherd, and which wander where they please, with no one to collect, defend, or guide them. One would wander in one direction, and another in another; and, of course, solitary and unprotected. they would be exposed to the more danger. So it was, and is, with man. The bond which should have united him to the Great Shepherd, the Creator, has been broken. We have become lonely wanderers, where each one pursues his own interest, forms his own plans, and seeks to gratify his own pleasures, regardless of the interest of the whole. If we had not sinned, there would have been a common bond to unite us to God, and to each other. But now we, as a race, have become dissocial, selfish, following our own pleasures, and each one living to gratify his Own passions. What a true and graphic description of man! How has it been illustrated in all the selfish schemes and purposes of the race! And how is it still illustrated every day in the plans and actions of mortals!
And the Lord hath laid on him - Lowth renders this, 'Yahweh hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all.' Jerome (the Vulgate) renders it, Posuit Dominns in eo - 'The Lord placed on him the iniquity of us all.' The Septuagint renders it. Κύριος παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ἡμῶν Kurios paredōken auton tais hamartiais hēmōn - 'The Lord gave him for our sins.' The Chaldee renders it, 'From the presence of the Lord there was a willingness (רעוא ra‛ăvâ') to forgive the sins of all of us on account of him.' The Syriac has the same word as the Hebrew. The word used here (פגע pâga‛) means, properly, to strike upon or against, to impinge on anyone or anything, as the Greek πηγνύω pēgnuō. It is used in a hostile sense, to denote an act of rushing upon a foe (Sa1 22:17; to kill, to slay Jdg 8:21; Jdg 15:12; Sa2 1:15. It also means to light upon, to meet with anyone Gen 28:11; Gen 32:2. Hence, also to make peace with anyone; to strike a league or compact Isa 64:4. It is rendered, in our English version, 'reacheth to' Jos 19:11, Jos 19:22, Jos 19:26-27, Jos 19:34; 'came,' Jos 16:7; 'met' and 'meet' Gen 32:1; Exo 23:4; Num 35:19; Jos 2:16; Jos 18:10; Rut 2:22; Sa1 10:5; Isa 64:5; Amo 5:19; 'fail' Jdg 8:21; Sa1 22:17; Sa2 1:15; Kg1 2:29; 'entreat' Gen 18:8; Rut 1:16; Jer 15:11; 'make intercession' Isa 59:16; Isa 53:12; Jer 7:16; Jer 27:18; Jer 36:25; 'he that comes between' Job 36:22; and 'occur' Kg1 5:4. The radical idea seems to be that of meeting, occurring, encountering; and it means here, as Lowth has rendered it, that they were caused to meet on him, or perhaps more properly, that Yahweh caused them to rush upon him, so as to overwhelm him in calamity, as one is overcome or overwhelmed in battle. The sense is, that he was not overcome by his own sins, but that he encountered ours, as if they had been made to rush to meet him and to prostrate him. That is, he suffered in our stead; and whatever he was called to endure was in consequence of the fact that he had taken the place of sinners; and having taken their place, he met or encountered the sufferings which were the proper expressions of God's displeasure, and sunk under the mighty burden of the world's atonement.
The iniquity of us all - (See the notes at Isa 53:5). This cannot mean that he became a sinner, or was guilty in the sight of God, for God always regarded him as an innocent being. It can only mean that he suffered as if he had been a sinner; or, that he suffered that which, if he had been a sinner, would have been a proper expression of the evil of sin. It may be remarked here:
1. That it is impossible to find stronger language to denote the fact that his sufferings were intended to make expiation for sin. Of what martyr could it be said that Yahweh had caused to meet on him the sins of the world?
2. This language is that which naturally expresses the idea that he suffered for all people. It is universal in its nature, and naturally conveys the idea that there was no limitation in respect to the number of those for whom he died.
He was oppressed - (נגשׂ niggas'). Lowth renders this, 'It was exacted.' Hengstenberg, 'He was abased.' Jerome (the Vulgate), 'He was offered because he was willing.' The Septuagint 'He, on account of his affliction, opened not his mouth,' implying that his silence arose from the extremity of his sorrows. The Chaldee renders it, 'He prayed, and he was heard, and before he opened his mouth he was accepted.' The Syriac, 'He came and humbled himself, neither did he open his mouth.' Kimchi supposes that it means, 'it was exacted;' and that it refers to the fact that taxes were demanded of the exiles, when they were in a foreign land. The word used here (נגשׂ nāgas') properly means, "to drive," to impel, to urge; and then to urge a debtor, to exact payment; or to exact tribute, a ransom, etc. (see Deu 15:2-3; Kg2 23:35.) Compare Job 3:18; Zac 9:8; Zac 10:4, where one form of the word is rendered 'oppressor;' Job 39:7, the 'driver;' Exo 5:6, 'taskmasters;' Dan 11:20, 'a raiser of taxes.' The idea is that of urgency, oppression, vexation, of being hard pressed, and ill treated. It does not refer here necessarily to what was exacted by God, or to sufferings inflicted by him - though it may include those - but it refers to all his oppressions, and the severity of his sufferings from all quarters. He was urged impelled, oppressed, and yet he was patient as a lamb.
And he was afflicted - Jahn and Steudel propose to render this, 'He suffered himself to be afflicted.' Hengstenberg renders it, 'He suffered patiently, and opened not his mouth.' Lowth, 'He was made answerable; and he opened not his mouth.' According to this, the idea is, that he had voluntarily taken upon himself the sins of people, and that having done so, he was held answerable as a surety. But it is doubtful whether the Hebrew will bear this construction. According to Jerome, the idea is that he voluntarily submitted, and that this was the cause of his sufferings. Hensler renders it, 'God demands the debt, and he the great and righteous one suffers.' It is probable, however, that our translation has retained the correct sense. The word ענה ‛ânâh, in Niphil, means to be afflicted, to suffer, be oppressed or depressed Psa 119:107, and the idea here is, probably, that he was greatly distressed and afflicted. He was subjected to pains and sorrows which were hard to be borne, and which are usually accompanied with expressions of impatience and lamentation. The fact that he did not open his mouth in complaint was therefore the more remarkable, and made the merit of his sufferings the greater.
Yet he opened not his mouth - This means that he was perfectly quiet, meek, submissive, patient, He did not open his mouth to complain of God on account of the great sorrows which he had appointed to him; nor to God on account of his being ill-treated by man. He did not use the language of reviling when he was reviled, nor return upon people the evils which they were inflicting on him (compare Psa 39:9). How strikingly and literally was this fulfilled in the life of the Lord Jesus! It would seem almost as if it had been written after he lived, and was history rather than prophecy. In no other instance was there ever so striking an example of perfect patience; no other person ever so entirely accorded with the description of the prophet.
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter - This does not mean that he was led to the slaughter as a lamb is, but that as a lamb which is led to be killed is patient and silent, so was he. He made no resistance. He uttered no complaint. He suffered himself to be led quietly along to be put to death. What a striking and beautiful description! How tender and how true! We can almost see here the meek and patient Redeemer led along without resistance; and amidst the clamor of the multitude that were assembled with various feelings to conduct him to death, himself perfectly silent and composed. With all power at his disposal, yet as quiet and gentle as though he had no power; and with a perfect consciousness that he was going to die, as calm and as gentle as though he were ignorant of the design for which they were leading him forth. This image occurs also in Jeremiah, Jer 11:19, 'But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter.'
As a sheep - As a sheep submits quietly to the operation of shearing. Compare Pe1 2:23, 'Who when he was reviled, reviled not again.' Jesus never opened his mouth to revile or complain. It was opened only to bless those that cursed him, and to pray for his enemies and murderers.
He was taken from prison - Margin, 'Away by distress and judgment.' The general idea in this verse is, that the sufferings which he endured for his people were terminated by his being, after some form of trial, cut off out of the land of the living. Lowth renders this, 'By an oppressive judgment he was taken off.' Noyes, 'By oppression and punishment he was taken away.' The Septuagint renders it, 'In his humiliation (ἐν τῇ ταπεινώσει en tē tapeinōsei), his judgment (ἡ κρίσις αὐτοὺ hē krisis autou), (his legal trial. Thomson), was taken away;' and this translation was followed by Philip when he explained the passage to the eunuch of Ethiopia Act 8:33. The eunuch, a native of Ethiopia, where the Septuagint was commonly used, was reading this portion of Isaiah in that version, and the version was sufficiently accurate to express the general sense of the passage, though it is by no means a literal translation.
The Chaldee renders this verse, 'From infirmities and retribution he shall collect our captivity, and the wonders which shall be done for us in his days who can declare? Because he shall remove the dominion of the people from the land of Israel; the sins which my people have sinned shall come even unto them.' The Hebrew word which is here used (עצר ‛otser, from עצר ‛âtsar, "to shut up, to close," means properly "a shutting up," or "closure"; and then constraint, oppression, or vexation. In Psa 107:39, it means violent restraint, or oppression. It does not mean prison in the sense in which that word is now used. It refers rather to restraint, and detention; and would be better translated by confinement, or by violent oppressions. The Lord Jesus, moreover, was not confined in prison. He was bound, and placed under a guard, and was thus secured. But neither the word used here, nor the account in the New Testament, leads us to suppose that in fact he was incarcerated. There is a strict and entire conformity between the statement here, and the facts as they occurred on the trial of the Redeemer (see Joh 18:24; compare the notes at Act 8:33).
And from judgment - From a judicial decision; or by a judicial sentence. This statement is made in order to make the account of his sufferings more definite. He did not merely suffer affliction; he was not only a man of sorrows in general; he did not suffer in a tumult, or by the excitement of a mob: but he suffered under a form of law, and a sentence was passed in his case (compare Jer 1:16; Kg2 25:6), and in accordance with that he was led forth to death. According to Hengstenberg, the two words here 'by oppression,' and 'by judicial sentence,' are to be taken together as a hendiadys, meaning an oppressive, unrighteous proceeding. So Lowth understands it. It seems to me, however, that they are rather to be taken as denoting separate things - the detention or confinement preliminary to the trial, and the sentence consequent upon the mock trial.
And who shall declare his generation? - The word rendered 'declare' means to relate, or announce. 'Who can give a correct statement in regard to it' - implying either that there was some want of willingness or ability to do it. This phrase has been very variously interpreted; and it is by no means easy to fix its exact meaning. Some have supposed that it refers to the fact that when a prisoner was about to be led forth to death, a crier made proclamation calling on anyone to come forward and assert his innocence, and declare his manner of life. But there is not sufficient proof that this was done among the Jews, and there is no evidence that it was done in the case of the Lord Jesus. Nor would this interpretation exactly express the sense of the Hebrew. In regard to the meaning of the passage, besides the sense referred to above, we may refer to the following opinions which have been held, and which are arranged by Hengstenberg:
1. Several, as Luther, Calvin, and Vitringa, translate it, 'Who will declare the length of his life?' that is, who is able to determine the length of his future days - meaning that there would be no end to his existence, and implying that though he would be cut off, yet he would be raised again, and would live forever. To this, the only material objection is, that the word דור dôr (generation), is not used elsewhere in that sense. Calvin, however, does not refer it to the personal life of the Messiah, so to speak, but to his life in the church, or to the perpetuity of his life and principles in the church which he redeemed. His words are: 'Yet we are to remember that the prophet does not speak only of the person of Christ, but embraces the whole body of the church, which ought never to be separated from Christ. We have, therefore, says he, a distinguished testimony respecting the perpetuity of the church. For as Christ lives for ever, so he will not suffer his kingdom to perish' - (Commentary in loc.)
2. Others translate it, 'Who of his contemporaries will consider it,' or 'considered it?' So Storr, Doderlin, Dathe, Rosenmuller and Gesenius render it. According to Gesenius it means, 'Who of his contemporaries considered that he was taken out of the land of the living on account of the sin of my people?'
3. Lowth and some others adopt the interpretation first suggested, and render it, 'His manner of life who would declare?' In support of this, Lowth appeals to the passages from the Mishna and the Gemara of Babylon, where it is said that before anyone was punished for a capital crime, proclamation was made before him by a crier in these words, 'Whosoever knows anything about his innocence, let him come and make it known.' On this passage the Gemara of Babylon adds, 'that before the death of Jesus, this proclamation was made forty days; but no defense could be found.' This is certainly false; and there is no sufficient reason to think that the custom prevailed at all in the time of Isaiah, or in the time of the Saviour.
4. Others render it, 'Who can express his posterity, the number of his descendants?' So Hengstenberg renders it. So also Kimchi.
5. Some of the fathers referred it to the humanity of Christ, and to his miraculous conception. This was the belief of Chrysostom. See Calvin in loc. So also Morerius and Cajetan understood it.
But the word is never used in this sense. The word דור dôr (generation), means properly an age, a generation of human beinigs; the revolving period or circle of human life; from דור dûr, a circle Deu 23:3-4, Deu 23:9; Ecc 1:4. It then means, also, a dwelling, a habitation Psa 49:20; Isa 38:12. It occurs often in the Old Testament, and is in all other instances translated 'generation,' or 'generations.' Amidst the variety of interpretations which have been proposed, it is perhaps not possible to determine with any considerable degree of certainty what is the true sense of the passage. The only light, it seems to me, which can be thrown on it, is to be derived from the 10th verse, where it is said, 'He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days;' and this would lead us to suppose that the sense is, that he would have a posterity which no one would be able to enumerate, or declare. According to this, the sense would be, 'He shall be indeed cut off out of the land of the living. But his name, his race shall not be extinct. Notwithstanding this, his generation, race, posterity, shall be so numerous that no one shall be able to declare it.' This interpretation is not quite satisfactory, but it has more probabilities in its favor than any other.
For - (כי kı̂y). This particle does not here denote the cause of what was just stated, but points out the connection (compare Sa1 2:21; Ezr 10:1). In these places it denotes the same as 'and.' This seems to be the sense here. Or, if it be here a causal particle, it refers not to what immediately goes before, but to the general strain and drift of the discourse. All this would occur to him because he was cut off on account of the transgression of his people. He was taken from confinement, and was dragged to death by a judicial sentence, and he should have a numerous spiritual posterity, because he was cut off on account of the sins of the people.
He was cut off - This evidently denotes a violent, and not a peaceful death. See Dan 9:26 : 'And after threescore and two weeks shall the Messiah be cut off, but not for himself.' The Septuagint renders it, 'For his life is taken away from the earth.' The word used here (גזר gâzar), means properly "to cut, to cut in two, to divide." It is applied to the act of cutting down trees with an axe (see Kg2 6:4). Here the natural and obvious idea is, that he would be violently taken away, as if he was cut down in the midst of his days. The word is never used to denote a peaceful death, or a death in the ordinary course of events; and the idea which would be conveyed by it would be, that the person here spoken of would be cut off in a violent manner in the midst of his life.
For the transgression of my people - The meaning of this is not materially different from 'on account of our sins.' 'The speaker here - Isaiah - does not place himself in opposition to the people, but includes himself among them, and speaks of them as his people, that is, those with whom he was connected' - (Hengstenberg). Others, however, suppose that Yahweh is here introduced as speaking, and that he says that the Messiah was to be cut off for the sins of his people.
Was he stricken - Margin, 'The stroke upon him;' that is, the stroke came upon him. The word rendered in the margin 'stroke' (נגע nega‛), denotes properly a blow Deu 17:8 :Deu 21:5; then a spot, mark, or blemish in the skin, whether produced by the leprosy or any other cause. It is the same word which is used in Isa 53:4 (see the note on that verse). The Hebrew, which is rendered in the margin 'upon him' (למו lâmô) has given rise to much discussion. It is properly and usually in the plural form, and it has been seized upon by those who maintain that this whole passage refers not to one individual but to some collective body, as of the people, or the prophets (see Analysis prefixed to Isa 52:13), as decisive of the controversy. To this word Rosenmuller, in his Prolegomena to the chapter, appeals for a decisive termination of the contest, and supposes the prophet to have used this plural form for the express purpose of clearing up any difficulty in regard to his meaning. Gesenius refers to it for the same purpose, to demonstrate that the prophet must have referred to some collective body - as the prophets - and not to an individual. Aben Ezra and Abarbanel also maintain the same thing, and defend the position that it can never be applied to an individual. This is not the place to go into an extended examination of this word. The difficulties which have been started in regard to it, have given rise to a thorough critical examination of the use of the particle in the Old Testament, and an inquiry whether it is ever used in the singular number. Those who are disposed to see the process and the result of the investigation, may consult Ewald's Hebrew Grammar, Leipzig, 1827, p. 365; Wiseman's Lectures, pp. 331-333, Andover Edit., 1837; and Hengstenberg's Christology, p. 523. In favor of regarding it as used here in the singular number and as denoting an individual, we may just refer to the following considerations:
1. It is so rendered by Jerome, and in the Syriac version.
2. In some places the suffix מו mô, attached to nouns, is certainly singular. Thus in Psa 11:7, (פניטו pânēyṭô) 'His face,' speaking of God; Job 27:23, 'Men shall clap their hands at him' (עלימו ‛âlēymô), where it is certainly singular; Isa 44:15, 'He maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto' (למו lâmô).
3. In Ethiopic the suffix is certainly singular (Wiseman).
These considerations show that it is proper to render it in the singular number, and to regard it as referring to an individual. The Septuagint renders it, Εἰς Θάνατον Eis Thanaton - 'Unto death,' and evidently read it as if it were an abbreviation of למות lāmûth, and they render the whole passage, 'For the transgressions of my people he was led unto death.' This translation is adopted and defended by Lowth, and has also been defended by Dr. Kennicott. The only argument which is urged, however, is, that it was so used by Origen in his controversy with the Jews; that they made no objection to the argument that he urged; and that as Origen and the Jews were both acquainted with the Hebrew text, it is to be presumed that this was then the reading of the original. But this authority is too slight to change the Hebrew text. The single testimony of Origen is too equivocal to determine any question in regard to the reading of the Hebrew text, and too much reliance should not be reposed even on his statements in regard to a matter of fact. This is one of the many instances in which Lowth has ventured to change the Hebrew text with no sufficient authority.
And he made his grave with the wicked - Jerome renders this, Et dabit impios pro sepultura et divitem pro morte sua. The Septuagint renders it, 'I will give the wicked instead of his burial (ἀντὶ τῆς ταφῆς anti tēs taphēs), and the rich in the place, or instead of his death' (ἀντὶ τοῦ θανάτου anti tou thanatou). The Chaldee renders it, 'He will deliver the wicked into Gehenna, and the rich in substance who oppress, by a death that is destructive, that the workers of iniquity may no more be established, and that they may no more speak deceit in their mouth.' The Syriac renders it beautifully, 'the wicked gave a grave.' Hengstenberg renders it, 'They appointed him his grave with the wicked (but he was with a rich man after his death); although he had done nothing unrighteous, and there was no guile in his mouth.' The sense, according to him, is, that not satisfied with his sufferings and death, they sought to insult him even in death, since they wished to bury his corpse among criminals. It is then incidentally remarked, that this object was not accomplished. This whole verse is exceedingly important; and every word in it deserves a serious examination, and attentive consideration. It has been subjected to the closest investigation by critics, and different interpretations have been given to it. They may be seen at length in Rosenmuller, Gesenius, and Hengstenberg. The word rendered 'he made' (נויתן vayitēn, from נתן nâthan) is a word of very frequent occurrence in the Scriptures. According to Gesenius, it means:
1. To give, as:
(a) to give the hand to a victor;
(b) to give into the hand of anyone, that is, the power;
(c) to give, that is, to turn the back;
(d) to give, that is, to yield fruit as a tree;
(e) to give, that is, to show compassion:
(f) to give honor, praise, etc.:
(g) to give into prison, or into custody.
2. To sit, place, put, lay;
(a) to set before anyone;
(b) to set one over any person or thing;
(c) to give one's heart to anything; that is, to apply the mind, etc.
3. To make;
(a) to make or constitute one as anything;
(b) to make a thing as something else.
The notion of giving, or giving over, is the essential idea of the word, and not that of making, as our translation would seem to imply; and the sense is, that he was given by design to the grave of the wicked, or it was intended that he should occupy such a grave. The meaning then would be:
And his grave was appointed with the wicked;
But he was with a rich man in his death -
Although he had done no wrong,
Neither was there any guile in his mouth.
But who gave, or appointed him? I answer:
1. The word may either here be used impersonally, as in Psa 72:15. 'to him shall be given,' margin, 'one shall give,' Ecc 2:21, meaning, that someone gave, or appointed his grave with the wicked; that is, his grave was appointed with the wicked; or,
2. The phrase 'my people' (עמי ‛ammı̂y) must be supplied; my people appointed his grave to be with the wicked; or,
3. God gave, or appointed his grave with the wicked.
It seems to me that it is to be regarded as used impersonally, meaning that his grave was appointed with the wicked; and then the sense will be, that it was designed that he should be buried with the wicked, without designating the person or persons who intended it. So it is correctly rendered by Lowth and Noyes, 'His grave was appointed with the wicked.'
With the wicked - It was designed that he should be buried with the wicked. The sense is, that it was not only intended to put him to death, but also to heap the highest indignity on him. Hence, it was intended to deny him an honorable burial, and to consign him to the same ignominious grave with the violators of the laws of God and man. One part of an ignominious punishment has often been to deny to him who has been eminent in guilt an honorable burial. Hence, it was said of Ahab Kg1 21:19, that the dogs should lick his blood; and of Jezebel that the dogs should eat her Kg1 21:23. Thus of the king of Babylon Isa 14:19, that he should 'be cast out of his grave as an abominable branch' (see the note on that place). Hence, those who have been especially guilty are sometimes quartered, and their heads and other parts of the body suspended on posts, or they are hung in chains, and their flesh left to be devoured by the fowls of heaven.
So Josephus (Ant. iv. 8. 6), says, 'He that blasphemeth God, let him be stoned; and let him hang on a tree all that day, and then let him be buried in an ignominious and obscure manner.' The idea here is, that it was intended to cast the highest possible indignity on the Messiah; not only to put him to death, but even to deny him the privilege of an honorable burial, and to commit him to the same grave with the wicked. How remarkably was this fulfilled! As a matter of course, since he was put to death with wicked people, he would naturally have been buried with them, unless there had been some special interposition in his case. He was given up to be treated as a criminal; he was made to take the vacated place of a murderer - Barabbas - on the cross; he was subjected to the same indignity and cruelty to which the two malefactors were; and it was evidently designed also that he should be buried in the same manner, and probably in the same grave. Thus in Joh 19:31, it is said thai the Jews, because it was the preparation, in order that their bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath day, 'besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away;' intending evidently that their death should be hurried in the same cruel manner, and that they should be buried in the same way. Who can but wonder at the striking accuracy of the prediction!
And with the rich - (עשׁיר ‛âshı̂yr). The words 'he was,' are here to be supplied. 'But he was with a rich man in his death? The particle ו (v), rendered "and," is properly here adversative, and means "but, yet." The meaning is, that although he had been executed with criminals, and it had been expected that he would be interred with them, yet he was associated with a rich man in his death; that is, in his burial. The purpose which had been cherished in regard to his burial was not accomplished. The word עשׁיר ‛âshı̂yr (from עשׁר ‛âshar, "to be straight, to prosper, to be happy," and then "to be rich"), means properly the rich, and then the honorable and noble. It occurs very often in the Bible (see Taylor's Concord.), and is in all cases in our English version rendered 'rich.' Gesenius contends, however, that it sometimes is to be taken in a bad sense, and that it means proud, arrogant, impious, because riches are a source of pride, and pride to a Hebrew is synonymous with impiety.
He appeals to Job 27:19, in proof of this. But it is evident that the place in Job, 'The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered,' may be understood as speaking of a rich man as he is commonly found; and the word there does not mean proud, or wicked, but it means a rich man who is without religion. In all places where the word occurs in the Bible, the primary idea is that of a rich man - though he may be righteous or wicked, pious or impious, a friend of God or an enemy. That is to be determined by the connection. And the natural and proper idea here is that of a man who is wealthy, though without any intimation with regard to his moral character. It is rather implied that the man referred to would have a character different from 'the wicked,' with whom his grave was appointed. Several interpreters, however, of the highest charactor, have supposed that the word here refers to the ungodly, and means, that in his death he was associated with the ungodly.
Thus Calvin supposes that it refers to the Scribes and Pharisees, and the impious and violent Romans who rushed upon him to take his life. Luther remarks that it means, 'a rich man; one who gives himself to the pursuit of wealth; that is, an ungodly man.' But the objection is insuperable that the word in the Bible never is used in this sense, to denote simply a wicked or an ungodly man. It may denote a rich man who is ungodly - but that must be determined by the connection. The simple idea in the word is that of wealth, but whether the person referred to be a man of fair or unfair, pure or impure character, is to be determined by other circumstances than the mere use of the word. So the word 'rich' is used in our language, and in all languages. The principal reason why it has here been supposed to mean ungodly is, that the parallelism is supposed to require it. But this is not necessary. It may be designed to intimate that there was a distinction between the design which was cherished in regard to his burial, and the fact. It was intended that he should have been interred with the wicked; but in fact, he was with the rich in his death.
In his death - Margin, 'Deaths' (במתיו bemothāyv). Lowth renders this, 'His tomb.' He understands the Hebrew letter beth (b) as radical and not servile; and supposes that the word is במות bâmôth (hills); that is, sepulchral hills. Tombs, he observes, correctly, were often hills or tumuli erected over the bodies of the dead; and he supposes that the word hill, or high place, became synonymous with a tomb, or sepulchre. This interpretation was first suggested by Aben Ezra, and has been approved by CEcolampadius, Zuingle, Drusius, Ikin, Kuinoel, and others. But the interpretation is liable to great objections.
1. It is opposed to all the ancient versions.
2. There is no evidence that the word במות bâmôth is ever used except in one place (Eze 43:7, where it means also primarily high places, though there perhaps dedenoting a burial-place), in the sense of βωμός bōmos, a tomb, or place of burial. It denotes a high place or height; a stronghold, a fastness, a fortress; and then an elevated place, where the rites of idolatry were celebrated; and though it is not improbable that those places became burial-places - as we bury in the vicinity of a place of worship yet the word simply and by itself does not denote a tumulus, or an elevated place of burial. The word here, therefore, is to be regarded as a noun from מות mâveth, or מות môth, plural מותים môthı̂ym, meaning the same as 'after his death' - 'the grave.' The plural is used instead of the singular in Eze 28:8-10; and also Job 21:32 : 'Yet he shall be brought to the grave;' Margin, as Hebrew, 'graves.' The sense, therefore, is, that after his death he would be with a man of wealth, but without determining anything in regard to his moral character.
The exact fulfillment of this may be seen in the account which is given of the manner of the burial of the Saviour by Joseph of Arimathea (Mat 27:57-60. Joseph was a rich man. He took the body, and wound it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, a tomb hewn out of a rock - that is, a grave designed for himself; such as a rich man would use, and where it was designed that a rich man should be laid. He was buried with spices Joh 19:39-40; embalmed with a large quantity of myrrh and aloes, 'about a hundred pound weight,' in the mode in which the rich were usually interred. How different this from the interment of malefactors! How different from the way in which he would have been buried if he had been interred with them as it had been designed! And how very striking and minutely accurate this prophecy in circumstances which could not possibly have been the result of conjecture! How could a pretended prophet, seven hundred years before the event occurred, conjecture of one who was to be executed as a malefactor, and with malefactors, and who would in the ordinary course of events be buried with malefactors, conjecture that he would be rescued from such an ignominious burial by the interposition of a rich man, and buried in a grave designed for a man of affluence, and in the manner in which the wealthy are buried?
Because - (על ‛al). This word here has probably the signification of although. It is used for אשׁר על ‛al 'ăsher. Thus, it is used in Job 16:17 : 'Not for any injustice in my hands;' Hebrew, 'Although there is no injustice in my hands.' The sense here demands this interpretation. According to our common version, the meaning is, that he was buried with the rich man because he had done no violence, and was guilty of no deceit; whereas it is rather to be taken in connection with the entire strain of the passage, and to be regarded as meaning, that he was wounded, rejected, put to death, and buried by the hands of men, although he had done no violence.
He had done no violence - The precise sense of the expression is, that he had not by harsh and injurious conduct provoked them to treat him in this manner, or deserved this treatment at their hands. In accordance with this, and evidently with this passage in his eye, the apostle Peter says of the Lord Jesus, 'who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth' Pe1 2:20-22.
Neither was any deceit in his mouth - He was no deceiver, though he was regarded and treated as one. He was perfectly candid and sincere, perfectly true and holy. No one can doubt but this was exactly fulfilled in the Lord Jesus; and however it may be accounted for, it was true to the life, and it is applicable to him alone. Of what other dweller on the earth can it be said that there was no guile found in his mouth? Who else has lived who has always been perfectly free from deceit?
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him - In this verse, the prediction respecting the final glory and triumph of the Messiah commences. The design of the whole prophecy is to state, that in consequence of his great sufferings, he would be exalted to the highest honor (see the notes at Isa 52:13). The sense of this verse is, 'he was subjected to these sufferings, not on account of any sins of his, but because, under the circumstances of the case, his sufferings would be pleasing to Yahweh. He saw they were necessary, and he was willing that he should be subjected to them. He has laid upon him heavy sufferings. And when he has brought a sin-offering, he shall see a numerous posterity, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper through him.' The Lord was 'pleased' with his sufferings, not because he has delight in the sufferings of innocence; not because the sufferer was in any sense guilty or ill-deserving; and not because he was at any time displeased or dissatisfied with what the Mediator did, or taught. But it was:
1. Because the Messiah had voluntarily submitted himself to those sorrows which were necessary to show the evil of sin; and in view of the great object to be gained, the eternal redemption of his people, he was pleased that he would subject himself to so great sorrows to save them. He was pleased with the end in view, and with all that was necessary in order that the end might be secured.
2. Because these sufferings would tend to illustrate the divine perfections, and show the justice and mercy of God. The gift of a Saviour, such as he was, evinced boundless benevolence; his sufferings in behalf of the guilty showed the holiness of his nature and law; and all demonstrated that he was at the same time disposed to save, and yet resolved that no one should be saved by dishonoring his law, or without expiation for the evil which had been done by sin.
3. Because these sorrows would result in the pardon and recovery of an innumerable multitude of lost sinners, and in their eternal happiness and salvation. The whole work was one of benevolence, and Yahweh was pleased with it as a work of pure and disinterested love.
To bruise him - (See the notes at Isa 53:5). The word here is the infinitive of Piel. 'To bruise him, or his being bruised, was pleasing to Yahweh;' that is, it was acceptable to him that he should be crushed by his many sorrows. It does not of necessity imply that there was any positive and direct agency on the part of Yahweh in bruising him, but only that the fact of his being thus crushed and bruised was acceptable to him.
He hath put him to grief - This word, 'hath grieved him,' is the same which in another form occurs in Isa 53:4. It means that it was by the agency, and in accordance with the design of Yahweh, that he was subjected to these great sorrows.
When thou shalt make his soul - Margin, 'His soul shall make.' According to the translation in the text, the speaker is the prophet, and it contains an address to Yahweh, and Yahweh is himself introduced as speaking in Isa 53:11. According to the margin, Yahweh himself speaks, and the idea is, that his soul should make an offering for sin. The Hebrew will bear either. Jerome renders it, 'If he shall lay down his life for sin.' The Septuagint renders it in the plural, 'If you shall give (an offering) for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived posterity.' Lowth renders it, 'If his soul shall make a propitiatory sacrifice.' Rosenmuller renders it, 'If his soul, that is, he himself, shall place his soul as an expiation for sin.' Noyes renders it, 'But since he gave himself a sacrifice for sin.' It seems to me that the margin is the correct rendering, and that it is to be regarded as in the third person. Thus the whole passage will be connected, and it will be regarded as the assurance of Yahweh himself, that when his life should be made a sacrifice for sin, he would see a great multitude who should be saved as the result of his sufferings and death.
His soul - The word rendered here 'soul' (נפשׁ nephesh) means properly breath, spirit, the life, the vital principle Gen 1:20-30; Gen 9:4; Lev 17:11; Deu 12:23. It sometimes denotes the rational soul, regarded as the seat of affections and emotions of various kinds Gen 34:3; Psa 86:4; Isa 15:4; Isa 42:1; Sol 1:7; Sol 3:1-4. It is here equivalent to himself - when he himself is made a sin-offering, or sacrifice for sin.
An offering for sin - (אשׁם 'âshâm). This word properly means, blame, guilt which one contracts by transgression Gen 26:10; Jer 51:5; also a sacrifice for guilt; a sin-offering; an expiatory sacrifice. It is often rendered 'trespass-offering' Lev 5:19; Lev 7:5; Lev 14:21; Lev 19:21; Sa1 6:3, Sa1 6:8, Sa1 6:17). It is rendered 'guiltiness' Gen 26:10; 'sin' Pro 14:9; 'trespass' Num 5:8. The idea here is, clearly, that he would be made an offering, or a sacrifice for sin; that by which guilt would be expiated and an atonement made. In accordance with this, Paul says Co2 5:21, that God 'made him to be sin for us' (ἁμαρτίαν hamartian), that is, a sin-offering; and he is called ἱλασμὸς hilasmos and ἱλαστήριον hilastērion, a propitiatory sacrifice for sins Rom 3:25; Jo1 2:2; Jo1 4:10. The idea is, that he was himself innocent, and that he gave up his soul or life in order to make an expiation for sin - as the innocent animal in sacrifice was offered to God as an acknowledgment of guilt. There could be no more explicit declaration that he who is referred to here, did not die as a martyr merely, but that his death had the high purpose of making expiation for the sins of people. Assuredly this is not language which can be used of any martyr. In what sense could it be said of Ignatius or Cranmer that their souls or lives were made an offering (אשׁם 'âshâm or ἱλασμὸς hilasmos) for sin? Such language is never applied to martyrs in the Bible; such language is never applied to them in the common discourses of people.
He shall see his seed - His posterity; his descendants. The language here is taken from that which was regarded as the highest blessing among the Hebrews. With them length of days and a numerous posterity were regarded as the highest favors, and usually as the clearest proofs of the divine love. 'Children's children are the crown of old men' Pro 17:6. See Psa 127:5; Psa 128:6 : 'Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel.' So one of the highest blessings which could be promised to Abraham was that he would be made the father of many nations Gen 12:2; Gen 17:5-6. In accordance with this, the Messiah is promised that he shall see a numerous spiritual posterity. A similar declaration occurs in Psa 22:30, which is usually applied to the Messiah. 'A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.' The natural relation between father and son is often transferred to spiritual subjects. Thus the name father is often given to the prophets, or to teachers, and the name sons to disciples or learners. In accordance with this, the idea is here, that the Messiah would sustain this relation, and that there would be multitudes who would sustain to him the relation of spiritual children. There may be emphasis on the word 'see' - he shall see his posterity, for it was regarded as a blessing not only to have posterity, but to be permitted to live and see them. Hence, the joy of the aged Jacob in being permitted to see the children of Joseph Gen 48:11 : 'And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face; and lo, God hath showed me also thy seed.
He shall prolong his days - His life shall be long. This also is language which is taken from 'the view entertained among the Hebrews that long life was a blessing, and was a proof of the divine favor. Thus, in Kg1 3:14, God says to Solomon, 'if thou wilt walk in my ways, and keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days' (see Deu 25:15; Psa 21:4; Psa 91:16; Pro 3:2). The meaning here is, that the Messiah, though he should be put to death, would yet see great multitudes who should be his spiritual children. Though he should die, yet he would live again, and his days should be lengthened out. It is fulfilled in the reign of the Redeemer on earth and in his eternal existence and glory in heaven.
And the pleasure of the Lord - That is, that which shall please Yahweh; the work which he desire and appoints.
Shall prosper - (See the notes at Isa 52:13, where the same word occurs).
In his hand - Under his government and direction. Religion will be promoted and extended through him. The reward of all his sufferings in making an offering for sin would be, that multitudes would be converted and saved; that his reign would be permanent, and that the work which Yahweh designed and desired would prosper under his administration.
He shall see of the travail of his soul - This is the language of Yahweh, who is again introduced as speaking. The sense is, he shall see the fruit, or the result of his sufferings, and shall be satisfied. He shall see so much good resulting from his great sorrows; so much happiness, and so many saved, that the benefit shall be an ample compensation for all that he endured. The word rendered here 'travail' (עמל ‛âmâl), denotes properly labor, toil; wearisome labor; labor and toil which produce exhaustion; and hence, sometimes vexation, sorrow, grief, trouble. It is rendered 'labor' Psa 90:10; Psa 105:44; Jer 20:18; Ecc 2:11-20; 'perverseness' Num 21:21; sorrow' Job 3:10; 'wickedness' Job 4:8; 'trouble' Job 5:6-7; Psa 73:5; 'mischief' Job 15:35; Psa 7:13; Psa 10:7-14; Psa 94:20; 'travail,' meaning labor, or toil Ecc 4:4-6; 'grievousness' Isa 10:1; 'iniquity' Hab 1:13; 'toil' Gen 41:51; 'pain' Psa 25:18; and 'misery' Pro 31:7. The word 'travail' with us has two senses, first, labor with pain, severe toil; and secondly, the pains of childbirth. The word is used here to denote excessive toil, labor, weariness; and refers to the arduous and wearisome labor and trial involved in the work of redemption, as that which exhausted the powers of the Messiah as a man, and sunk him down to the grave.
And shall be satisfied - That is, evidently, he shall be permitted to see so much fruit of his labors and sorrows as to be an ample recompence for all that he has done. It is not improbable that the image here is taken from a farmer who labors in preparing his soil for the seed, and who waits for the harvest; and who, when he sees the rich and yellow field of grain in autumn, or the wain heavily laden with sheaves, is abundantly satisfied for what he has done. He has pleasure in the contemplation of his labor, and of the result; and he does not regret the wearisome days and the deep anxiety with which he made preparation for the harvest. So with the Redeemer. There will be rich and most ample results for all that he has done. And when he shall look on the multitude that shall be saved; when he shall see the true religion spreading over the world; when he shall behold an immense host which no man can number gathered into heaven; and when he shall witness the glory that shall result to God from all that he has done, he shall see enough to be an ample compensation for all that he has endured, and he shall look on his work and its glorious results with pleasure.
We may remark here that this implies that great and most glorious results will come out of this work. The salvation of a large portion of the race, of multitudes which no man can number, will be necessary to be any suitable remuneration for the sufferings of the Son of God. We may be assured that he will be 'satisfied,' only when multitudes are saved; and it is, therefore, morally certain that a large portion of the race, taken as a whole, will enter into heaven. Hitherto the number has been small. The great mass have rejected him, and have been lost. But there are brighter times before the church and the world. The pure gospel of the Redeemer is yet to spread around the globe, and it is yet to become, and to be for ages, the religion of the world. Age after age is to roll on when all shall know him and obey him; and in those future times, what immense multitudes shall enter into heaven! So that it may yet be seen, that the number of those who will be lost from the whole human family, compared with those who will be saved, will be no greater in proportion than the criminals in a well-organized community who are imprisoned are, compared with the number of obedient, virtuous, and peaceful citizens.
By his knowledge - That is, by the knowledge of him. The idea is, by becoming fully acquainted with him and his plan of salvation. The word knowledge here is evidently used in a large sense to denote all that constitutes acquaintance with him. Thus Paul says Phi 3:10, 'That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection.' It is only by the knowledge of the Messiah; by an acquaintance with his character, doctrines, sufferings, death, and resurrection, that anyone can be justified. Thus the Saviour says Joh 17:3, 'And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' People are to become acquainted with him; with his doctrines, and with his religion, or they can never be regarded and treated as righteous in the sight of a holy God.
Shall my righteous servant - On the meaning of the word 'servant,' as applied to the Messiah, see the notes at Isa 52:13. The word 'righteous' (צדיק tsadiyq), Lowth supposes should be omitted. His reasons are:
1. That three manuscripts, two of them ancient, omit it.
2. That it makes a solecism in this place, for, according to the constant usage of the Hebrew language, the adjective, in a phrase of this kind, ought to follow the substantive; and,
3. That it makes the hemistich too long.
But none of these reasons are sufficient to justify a change in the text. The phrase literally is, 'the righteous, my servant;' and the sense is, evidently, 'my righteous servant.' The word righteous, applied to the Messiah, is designed to denote not only his personal holiness, but to have reference to the fact that he would' make many righteous (יצדיק yitseddiyq). It is applicable to him, because he was eminently holy and pure, and because also he was the source of righteousness to others; and in the work of justification it is important in the highest degree to fix the attention on the fact, that he by whom the sinner was to be justified was himself perfectly holy, and able to secure the justification and salvation of all who entrusted their souls to him. No man could feel secure of salvation unless he could commit his soul to one who was perfectly holy, and able to 'bring in everlasting righteousness.'
Justify - (יצדיק yatsediyq). The word צדק tsâdaq is of very frequent occurrence in the Bible; and no word is more important to a correct understanding of the plan of salvation than this, and the corresponding Greek word δικαιῶ dikaiō. On the meaning of the Greek word, see the notes at Rom 1:17. The Hebrew word means to be right, straight, as if spoken of a way Psa 23:3. Hence,
1. To be just, righteous, spoken of God in dispensing justice Psa 55:6; and of laws Psa 19:10.
2. To have a just cause, to be in the right;
(a) in a forensic sense Gen 38:26; Job 9:16-20; Job 10:15; Job 13:18;
(b) of disputants, to be in the right Job 23:12;
(c) to gain one's cause, to be justified Isa. 43:9-26.
In this sense it is now often used in courts of justice, where a man who is charged with crime shows that he did not do the deed, or that having done it he had a right to do it, and the law holds him innocent.
3. To be righteous, upright, good, innocent. In this sense the word is often used in the Bible Job 15:14; Job 23:9; Psa 143:2. But in this sense the Messiah will justify no one. He did not come to declare that men were upright, just, innocent. Nor will he justify them because they can show that they have not committed the offences charged on them, or that they had a right to do what they have done. The whole work of justification through the Redeemer proceeds on the supposition that people are not in fact innocent, and that they cannot vindicate their own conduct.
4. In Hiphil, the word means, to pronounce just, or righteous. In a forensic sense, and as applied to the act of justification before God, it means to declare righteous, or to admit to favor as a righteous person; and in connection with the pardon of sin, to resolve to treat as righteous, or as if the offence had not been committed. It is more than mere pardon; it involves the idea of a purpose to treat as righteous, and to acknowledge as such. It is nor to declare that the person is innocent, or that he is not ill deserving, or that he had a right to do as he had done, or that he has a claim to mercy - for this is not true of any mortal; but it is to pardon, and to accept him as if the offence had not been committed - to regard him in his dealings with him, and treat him ever onward as if he were holy. This sense of the word here is necessary, because the whole passage speaks of his bearing sin, and suffering for others, and thus securing their justification. It does not speak of him as instructing people and thus promoting religion; but it speaks of his dying for them, and thus laying the foundation for their justification. They are justified only in connection with his bearing their iniquities; and this shows that the word is used here in the forensic sense, and denotes that they will be regarded and treated as righteous on account of what he has suffered in their behalf.
For he shall bear - On the meaning of the word bear, see the notes at Isa 53:4.
Their iniquities - Not that he became a sinner, or that sin can be transferred, which is impossible. Guilt and ill desert are personal qualities, and cannot be transferred from one to another. But the consequences of guilt may pass over to another; the sufferings, which would be a proper expression of the evil of sin, may be assumed by another. And this was done by the Redeemer. He stood between the stroke of justice and the sinner, and received the blow himself. He intercepted, so to speak, the descending sword of justice that would have cut the sinner down, and thus saved him. He thus bore their iniquities; that is, he bore in his own person what would have been a proper expression of the evil of sin if he had been himself the sinner, and had been guilty (see the notes at Isa 53:6). It is in connection with this that people become justified; and it is only by the fact that he has thus borne their iniquities that they can be regarded as righteous in the sight of a holy God. They become interested in his merits just as he became interested in their iniquities. There is in neither case any transfer of personal properties; but there is in both cases a participation in the consequences or the results of conduct. He endured the consequences or results of sin; we partake of the consequences or the results of his sufferings and death in our behalf. This is the great cardinal doctrine of justification; the peculiarity of the Christian scheme; the glorious plan by which lost people may be saved, and by which the guilty may become pardoned, and be raised up to endless life and glory; the articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesia. luther.
Therefore will I divide him - I will divide for him (לו lô). This verse is designed to predict the triumphs of the Messiah. It is language appropriate to him as a prince, and designed to celebrate his glorious victories on earth. The words here used are taken from the custom of distributing the spoils of victory after a battle, and the idea is, that as a conqueror takes valuable spoils, so the Messiah would go forth to the spiritual conquest of the world, and subdue it to himself. Rosenmuller renders this, Dispertsam ei multos - 'I will divide to him the many;' that is, he shall have many as his portion. Hengstenberg, 'I will give him the mighty for a portion.' So the Septuagint, 'Therefore he shall inherit (κληρονομήσει klēronomēsei) many.' So Lowth, 'Therefore will I distribute to him the many for his portion.' But it seems to me that the sense is, that his portion would be with the mighty or the many (ברבים bârabbı̂ym) and that this interpretation is demanded by the use of the preposition ב (b) in this case, and by the corresponding word את 'êth, prefixed to the word 'mighty.' The sense, according to this, is, that the spoils of his conquests would be among the mighty or the many; that is, that his victories would not be confined to a few in number, or to the feeble, but the triumphs of his conquests would extend afar, and be found among the potentates and mighty people of the earth.
The word rendered here 'the great' (רבים rabbı̂ym), may mean either many or powerful and great. The parallelism here with the word עצוּמים ‛ătsûmı̂ym (the mighty), seems to demand that it be understood as denoting the great, or the powerful, though it is differently rendered by the Vulgate, the Septuagint, the Chaldee, by Castellio, and by Junius and Tremellius. The sense is, I think, that his conquests would be among the great and the mighty. He would overcome his most formidable enemies, and subdue them to himself. Their most valued objects; all that constituted their wealth, their grandeur, and their power, would be among the spoils of his victories. It would not be merely his feeble foes that would be subdued, but it would be the mighty, and there would be no power, however formidable, that would be able to resist the triumphs of his truth. The history of the gospel since the coming of the Redeemer shows how accurately this has been fulfilled. Already he has overcome the mighty, and the spoils of the conquerors of the world have been among the trophies of his victories. The Roman empire was subdued; and his conquests were among these conquerors, and his were victories over the subduers of nations. It will be still more signally fulfilled in coming times, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever Rev 11:15.
And he shall divide the spoil with the strong - And with the mighty, or with heroes, shall he divide the plunder. The idea here is not materially different from that which was expressed in the former member of the sentence. It is language derived from the conquests of the warrior, and means that his victories would be among the great ones of the earth; his conquests over conquerors. It was from language such as this that the Jews obtained the notion, that the Messiah would be a distinguished conqueror, and hence, they looked forward to one who as a warrior would carry the standard of victory around the world. But it is evident that it may be applied with much higher beauty to the spiritual victories of the Redeemer, and that it expresses the great and glorious truth that the conquests of the true religion will yet extend over the most formidable obstacles on the earth.
Because he hath poured out his soul unto death - His triumphs would be an appropriate reward for his sufferings, his death, and his intercession. The expression 'he poured out his soul,' or his life (נפשׁו napeshô; see the notes at Isa 53:10), is derived from the fact that the life was supposed to reside in the blood (see the notes at Rom 3:25); and that when the blood was poured out, the life was supposed to flow forth with it. As a reward for his having thus laid down his life, he would extend his triumphs over the whole world, and subdue the most mighty to himself.
And he was numbered with the transgressors - That is, he shall triumph because he suffered himself to be numbered with the transgressors, or to be put to death with malefactors. It does not mean that he was a transgressor, or in any way guilty; but that in his death he was in fact numbered with the guilty, and put to death with them. In the public estimation, and in the sentence which doomed him to death, he was regarded and treated as if he had been a transgressor. This passage is expressly applied by Mark to the Lord Jesus Mar 15:28.
And he bare the sin of many - (נשׂא nâs'â'). On the meaning of this word 'bare,' see the notes at Isa 53:4; and on the doctrine involved by his bearing sin, see the note at Isa 53:4-6, Isa 53:10. The idea here is, that he would triumph because he had thus borne their sins. As a reward for this God would bless him with abundant spiritual triumphs among people, and extend the true religion afar.
And made intercession for the transgressors - On the meaning of the word rendered here 'made intercession' (יפגיע yapegı̂y‛a), see the notes at Isa 53:6, where it is rendered 'hath laid on him.' The idea is. that of causing to meet, or to rush; and then to assail, as it were, with prayers, to supplicate for anyone, to entreat (see Isa 59:16; Jer 36:25). It may not refer here to the mere act of making prayer or supplication, but rather perhaps to the whole work of the intercession, in which the Redeemer, as high priest, presents the merit of his atoning blood before the throne of mercy and pleads for people (see Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25; Jo1 2:1). This is the closing part of his work in behalf of his people and of the world; and the sense here is, that he would be thus blessed with abundant and wide extended triumph, because he made intercession. All his work of humiliation, and all his toils and sufferings, and all the merit of his intercession, became necessary in order to his triumph, and to the spread of the true religion. In consequence of all these toils, and pains, and prayers, God would give him the victory over the world, and extend his triumphs around the globe. Here the work of the Mediator in behalf of human beings will cease. There is to be no more suffering, and beyond his intercessions he will do nothing for them. He will come again indeed, but he will come to judge the world, not to suffer, to bleed, to die, and to intercede. All his future conquests and triumphs will be in consequence of what he has already done; and they who are not saved because he poured out his soul unto death, and bare the sin of many, and made intercession, will not be saved at all. There will be no more sacrifice for sin, and there will be no other advocate and intercessor.
We have now gone through perhaps at tedious length, this deeply interesting and most important portion of the Bible. Assuming now (see the remarks prefixed to Isa 52:13 ff) that this was written seven hundred years before the Lord Jesus was born, there are some remarks of great importance to which we may just refer in the conclusion of this exposition.
1. The first is, the minute accuracy of the statements here as applicable to the Lord Jesus. While it is apparent that there has been no other being on earth, and no "collective body of men," to whom this can be applied, it is evident that the whole statement is applicable to the Redeemer. It is not the general accuracy to which I refer; it is not that there is some resemblance in the outline of the prediction; it is, that the statement is minutely accurate. It relates to his appearance, his rejection, the manner of his death, his being pierced, his burial. It describes, as minutely as could have been done after the events occurred, the manner of his trial of his rejection, the fact of his being taken from detention and by a judicial sentence, and the manner in which it was designed that he should be buried, and yet the remarkable fact that this was prevented, and that he was interred in the manner in which the rich were buried (see the notes at Isa 53:2-3, Isa 53:7-10).
2. This coincidence could never have occurred if the Lord Jesus had been an impostor. To say nothing of the difficulty of attempting to fulfill a prediction by imposture and the general failure in the attempt, there are many things here which would have rendered any attempt of this kind utterly hopeless. A very large portion of the things referred to in this chapter were circumstances over which an impostor could have no control and which he could bring about by no contrivance, no collusion, and no concert. They depended on the arrangements of Providence, and on the voluntary actions of people, in such a way that he could not affect them. How could he so order it as to grow up as a root out of a dry ground; to be despised and rejected of men; to be taken from detention and from a judicial sentence though innocent; to have it designed that be should be buried with malefactors, and to be numbered with transgressors, and yet to be rescued by a rich man, and placed in his tomb?
This consideration becomes more striking when it is remembered that not a few people claimed to be the Messiah, and succeeded in imposing on many, and though they were at last abandoned or punished, yet between their lives and death, and the circumstances here detailed, there is not the shadow of a coincidence. It is to be remembered also that an impostor would not have aimed at what would have constituted a fulfillment of this prophecy. Notwithstanding the evidence that it refers to the Messiah, yet it is certain also that the Jews expected no such personage as that here referred to. They looked for a magnificent temporal prince and conqueror; and an impostor would not have attempted to evince the character, and to go through the circumstances of poverty, humiliation, shame, and sufferings, here described. What impostor ever would have attempted to fulfill a prophecy by subjecting himself to a shameful death? What impostor could have brought it about in this manner if he had attempted it? No; it was only the true Messiah that either would or could have fulfilled this remarkable prophecy. Had an impostor made the effort, he must have failed; and it was not in human nature to attempt it under the circumstances of the case. All the claims to the Messiahship by impostors have been of an entirely different character from that referred to here.
3. We are then prepared to ask an infidel how he will dispose of this prophecy. That it existed seven hundred years before Christ is as certain as that the poems of Homer or Hesiod had an existence before the Christian era; as certain as the existence of any ancient document whatever. It will not do to say that it was forged - for this is not only without proof, but wound destroy the credibility of all ancient writings. It will not do to say that it was the result of natural sagacity in the prophet - for whatever may be said of conjectures about empires and kingdoms, no natural sagacity can tell what will be the character of an individual man, or whether such a man as here referred to would exist at all. It will not do to say that the Lord Jesus was a cunning impostor and resolved to fulfill this ancient writing, and thus establish his claims, for, as we have seen, such an attempt would have belied human nature, and if attempted, could not have been accomplished. It remains then to ask what solution the infidel will give of these remarkable facts. We present him the prophecy - not a rhapsody, not conjecture, not a general statement; but minute, full, clear, unequivocal, relating to points which could not have been the result of conjecture: and over which the individual had no control. And then we present him with the record of the life of Jesus - minutely accurate in all the details of the fulfillment - a coincidence as clear as that between a biography and the original - and ask him to explain it. And we demand a definite and consistent answer to this. To turn away from it does not answer it. To laugh, does not answer it, for there is no argument in a sneer or a jibe. To say that it is not worth inquiry is not true, for it pertains to the great question of human redemption. But if he cannot explain it, then he should admit that it is such a prediction as only God could give, and that Christianity is true.
4. This chapter proves that the Redeemer died as an atoning sacrifice for people. He was not a mere martyr, and he did not come and live merely to set us an example. Of what martyr was the language here ever used, and how could it be used? How could it be said of any martyr that he bore our griefs, that he was bruised for our iniquities, that our sins were made to rush and meet upon him, and that he bare the sin of many? And if the purpose of his coming was merely to teach us the will of God, or to set us an example, why is such a prominence here given to his sufferings in behalf of others? Scarcely an allusion is made to his example, while the chapter is replete with statements of his sufferings and sorrows in behalf of others. It would be impossible to state in more explicit language the truth that he died as a sacrifice for the sins of people; that he suffered to make proper expiation for the guilty. No confession of faith on earth, no creed, no symbol, no standard of doctrine, contains more explicit statements on the subject. And if the language used here does not demonstrate that the Redeemer was an atoning sacrifice, it is impossible to conceive how such a doctrine could be taught or conveyed to people.
5. This whole chapter is exceedingly important to Christians. It contains the most full, continuous statement in the Bible of the design of the Redeemer's sufferings and death. And after all the light which is shed on the subject in the New Testament; after all the full and clear statements made by the Redeemer and the apostles; still, if we wish to see a full and continuous statement on the great doctrine of the atonement, we naturally recur to this portion of Isaiah. If we wish our faith to be strengthened, and our hearts warmed by the contemplalion of his sufferings, we shall find no part of the Bible better adapted to it than this. It should not only be the subject of congratulation, but of much fervent prayer. No man can study it too profoundly. No one can feel too much anxiety to understand it. Every verse, every phrase, every word should be pondered until it fixes itself deep in the memory, and makes an eternal impression on the heart. If a man understands this portion of the Bible, he will have a correct view of the plan of salvation. And it should be the subject of profound and prayerful contemplation until the heart glows with love to that merciful God who was willing to give the Redeemer to such sorrow, and to the gracious Saviour who, for our sins, was willing to pour out his soul unto death. I bless God that I have been permitted to study it; and I pray that this exposition - cold and imperfect as it is - may be made the means yet of extending correct views of the design of the Redeemer's death among his friends, and of convincing those who have doubted the truth of the Bible, that a prophecy like this demonstrates that the book in which it occurs must be from God.