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Identifying the Suffering Servant

Understanding Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 52-54

By Shlomo Phillips © July 1998 (most recent update April 24, 2017)

These chapters of Prophet Isaiah's writings reveal essential information about the Jewish People and about our responsibilities as the Elect of HaShem under the conditions of the eternal Covenant. They need to be properly understood.

Many Christians believe these verses offer scriptural evidence for the sufferings and execution of Jesus, as well as for his deification. I see no information in these verses about the Messiah (whether that be Jesus or any other claimant) at all and certainly nothing that disavows biblical monotheism as Christianity does.

The Jewish and Christian interpretations of these texts could hardly be farther apart! In our attempt to understand this section of Scripture, we'll begin with the context at Isaiah 52:1 and take the literal sense and meaning of the texts throughout. In order to understand Isaiah, one really needs to study it chapter by chapter and verse by verse as many of its themes run through several chapters, some through the entire book. Remember, the chapters and verses were added later to assist in studying. They were not part of the original texts. Therefore the section breaks are meaningless as far as the teachings are concerned.

Yeshayahu 52:

1: Awaken, awaken, put on your strength, O Zion; put on the garments of your beauty, Jerusalem the Holy City, for no longer shall the uncircumcised or the unclean continue to enter you.

People Israel

Israel (the entire people of the Covenant) is being called here to "awaken," and to clothe themselves in splendor etc. See also Psalm 82 where we are communally commanded to arise to Torah as a single person and to embrace our responsibilities as sons and daughters of HaShem. This is common throughout the Tanach (i.e. the Hebrew Bible). While we are individual people, we serve HaShem as one.

Something in this section has radically changed with this verse: It's a new day! HaShem has now comforted "Jerusalem" (i.e. the people of Israel). The Holy City is once again in the hands of the Chosen People and will never again be controlled by Gentile powers (verse 1). We are obviously speaking of a future time (from Isaiah's perspective) because this situation didn't exist until 1948 when Israel regained control of part of the Holy Land, or perhaps not until the 1967 Six Day War when Holy Jerusalem was re-unified under Israeli control, or perhaps not even yet as Israel has not thus far been fully restored as the foretold Messianic kingdom. May that day come soon and in our lifetimes!

Of course, Jews love to debate and dig for deeper meanings, and there is some debate over everything we will discuss here. For instance, the Jewish people seem to have taken the land by UN accord rather than waiting for the Messiah to restore it as a literal reading of the prophecies would suggest. For this reason some misguided Jews are anti-Zionists We can discuss this question elsewhere. The important point here is that this prophecy is yet future at Isaiah's time and its complete fulfillment (at least) remains future to ours.

2: Shake yourselves from the dust, arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; free yourself of the bands of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
3: For so said the Lord, "You were sold for nought, and you shall not be redeemed for money."
4: For so said the Lord God, "My people first went down to Egypt to sojourn there, but Assyria oppressed them for nothing."
5: And now, what have I here," says the Lord, "that My people has been taken for nothing. His rulers boast," says the Lord, "and constantly all day My name is blasphemed.
6: Therefore, My people shall know My name; therefore, on that day, for I am He Who speaks, here I am."
7: How beautiful are the feet of the herald on the mountains, announcing peace, heralding good tidings, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, "Your God has manifested His kingdom."
Isaiah is looking into the future, to the day when Israel will be restored. Once this happens, Israel will never again subjected to Gentile rule. It is for this reason that we know the prophecy was not about the brief Hasmonean Dynasty because the text says "...henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean..." As that brief period the nation fell to Rome and was again destroyed.

So, the subject being referenced here is Klal Israel (i.e. the people of Israel as one). In that days as Rashi notes on verse 3, "you shall not be redeemed for money: but with repentance." Keep this in mind as we continue.

Beginning with verse 3 we see how the Jews (Klal Israel) have suffered throughout their generations and how HaShem has taken note of it and will, in due time, redeem His people as promised. As part of this redemption the Jews will re-learn His Name, they will again take up His Laws and observe His precepts (verse 6). Of this Rashi notes: My people shall know: When I redeem them, they will recognize that My Name is master, monarch, and ruler, as is its apparent meaning.

There is a time coming when HaShem will deliver the Jews and establish us for ever in our homeland, Zion. This is what is being presented here.

8: The voice of your watchmen - they raised a voice, together they shall sing, for eye to eye they shall see when the Lord returns to Zion..
9: Burst out in song, sing together, O ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has consoled his people; He has redeemed Jerusalem.
10: The Lord has revealed His holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
Verse 8 points to this time as being the day when all of the Jews will be resettled in Israel. Then HaShem Himself will return with them. Thus far only about half of the Jews have returned to Israel. We know therefore that these prophecies are not yet fulfilled.

Those who seek to usurp our scriptures and incorrectly claim that the Christian Church or Islam has replaced Israel as the Chosen of HaShem contradict the clear teachings of Prophet Isaiah here! When the Jews were cast out of the Holy City in 70 CE by the Romans HaShem went with them! Greek temples, Christian, and later Muslim shrines were built on our Holy sites, even on the Sacred Mount itself. HaShem was not there however! He was with His people in the Diaspora. HaShem was in the ghettos of Poland, in Germany, in Russia, in the US, in Czechoslovakia, in Bulgaria, wherever His people were, HaShem was present with them.

Note that at this future time Isaiah is discussing here the Jews are still the Elect of HaShem. This will never change as we read:

Malachi 3:6 For I, the Lord, have not changed; and you, the sons of Jacob, have not reached the end.
Just as HaShem promised Abraham and us all. His Covenant with us is eternal.

Note that this message is on the lips of many people not just one, as would be the case if it referred to the Messiah. These "Watchmen" (plural) are the religious/observant Jews who have watched and waited for this day throughout their generations. Now, perhaps in our generation, the Jews will all return and re-enter the Land, even Jerusalem (vs.9) as one. Living in restored Israel the Lord will again comfort His people and, at the proper time, He will redeem us as well.

11: Turn away, turn away, get out of there, touch no unclean one; get out of its midst, purify yourselves, you who bear the Lord's vessels.
12: For not with haste shall you go forth and not in a flurry of flight shall you go, for the Lord goes before you, and your rear guard is the God of Israel.

This coming redemption will be a divinely orchestrated process that takes time. This is what the anti-Zionists mentioned above fail to understand. The Jews are encouraged to lay aside their sins, their idols etc. and to return to the ways of the God of Israel (verse 11). We had previously been living in exile, scattered among the Gentile nations, but now is the time to purify ourselves and return to the Promised Land with clean hands so that we can once again "bear the vessels of HaShem." This requires preparation (during the period known as Ikv'ta d'Mashicha. These Jews will cleanse their Jewish souls and thereby the souls of all Jews, as one servant of One Master. This is a call for all Jews to return to Torah observance as one. Then we will be led directly by the Will of HaShem as in days of old. Rashi clarifies:

Two things at the end of this verse explain two things in its beginning, [viz.] For not with haste shall you go forth. What is the reason? For the Lord goes before you to lead you on the way, and one whose agent advances before him to lead him on the way his departure is not in haste. And not in the flurry of flight shall you go, for your rear guard is the God of Israel. He will follow you to guard you from any pursuer. Comp. (Numbers 10:25) "And the division of the camp of Dan shall travel, the rear guard of all the camps." Whoever goes after the camp is called "the rear guard," because he waits for the stragglers and the stumblers. Similarly, Scripture states in Joshua [6:13]: "And the rear guard was going after the Ark."
In time the Third Temple will be built on the Holy Mount and all of Eretz Israel will be restored. Even before this however, the Jews are to purify themselves by obeying Torah with emuna (active faith) in HaShem. Our collective teshuvah (repentance) is what can bring the Messianic times into reality. Arguably it is happening today as we continue to experience the birth pangs of HaMashiach (or Chevlei Masiach).

Once again the prophet warns, the Jews will be opposed by the Gentile nations, but HaShem will defend His people. He will "march before them" into this battle as He did in days of old. They will be led by Mashiach ben Yosef (i.e. an anointed son of Joseph) and ruled by Melech Mashiach ben David (i.e. King Messiah, son of David). Then the people will hear and obey HaShem's Voice! Then there will be shalom, peace for everyone. We simply need to have emuna (active faith) and follow HaShem and His Torah! We require emuna as discussed at great length by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and other Jewish sages.

There are many war reports in the history of modern Israel describing HaShem's direct intervention and protection on our behalf. Many such divine acts were seen and reported during the 2014 Gaza attacks on Israel by the Muslims occupying Gaza. As Israel journeys further into the Days of HaMashiach such miraculous protection will only increase. Mashiach ben Yosef and HaMashiach ben David will lead the people of Israel to victory. Then the world will be blessed by HaShem through Klal Y'israel as stated at Genesis 12:3 etc.

The focus of these texts however is not on the Messiah, but on the Jewish people as a group. There is no question about this when one considers the context as we have done. The Jewish people collectively are the "Servant" referenced here and in the next chapters.

13: Behold My servant [i.e. the Jews] shall prosper; he [Y'israel] shall be exalted and lifted up, and he shall be very high.
14: As many wondered about you [i.e. the Jews], "How marred his appearance is from that of a man, and his features from that of people!"
15: So shall he [restored Y'israel] cast down many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for, what had not been told them they saw, and [at] what they had not heard they gazed.
Rashi clarifies:
Verse 13: Behold My servant shall prosper: Behold, at the end of days, My servant, Jacob, i.e. the righteous among him, shall prosper.

Verse 14: As many wondered: As many peoples wondered about them when they saw them in their humble state, and said to one another, How marred is his [Israel’s] appearance from that of a man! See how their features are darker than those of other people, so, as we see with our eyes.

Verse 15: what had not been told them: concerning any man, they saw in him.
So shall he cast down many nations: So now, his hand will become powerful, and he will cast down the horns of the nations who scattered him.
shall shut: They shall shut their mouths out of great bewilderment.
for: honor.
In context then the meaning is clear. In the past many people were appalled and disgusted by the Jews. Many condemned us, they considered the Jews to be nothing; less than human; they dehumanized us, they slaughtered us without mercy in countries throughout the world. This has been the world's basic attitude toward the Jews since the time of Avraham (verse 14). But now those days are ending! As the Days of HaMashiach dawn "My servant", HaShem declares, will prosper and be lifted up! This process is well under way today. Israel has been restored to nationhood. For the first time in over 2000 years we are defending our land and our people from those who would destroy us! Am Y'israel chai! The people of Israel yet live!

The identity "My Servant," in context, can only be the Jewish people when we consider this entire chapter. Some Jews are currently obedient to Torah, some are not. Some are Heredi (ultra-Orthodox) while others are non-Orthodox (and more liberal in their observance). Many are secular, some are Atheists. But we are all one people!

As Rav Kook, the first modern Chief Rabbi of Israel so effectively argued, even when Jews think they are out of His Will, HaShem's Will is supreme and leads the people towards the Redemption.

Nothing in these verses implies the prophet is referring to the Messiah. The servant of HaShem are the people of His Covenant.

According to standard Christian interpretation, this servant is Jesus. Ignoring the context of these verses, Christians skip to the final verses of this chapter and imagine that they refer to the legal punishments inflicted on Jesus by the Romans according to the New Testament writings. However, the context of these verses clearly tells us who this "Servant" is:

This servant can only be the collective community of Israel, "my people" who have returned to Zion, the Land of Israel, which is the clear subject of all of these verses. The degradation and sufferings of the Jewish people throughout history are well documented, as is their triumphant return to our birthright, the land of Israel, in our own time.

Out of all the generations we have been blessed to see the rebirth of Israel! Think about that! WE blessed few are His Servants: We are Israel: the Jewish People. We not only still survive, we thrive!

Ponder the abused and persecuted Jews of Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany! Think of how they arose from the ashes and miraculously returned to the amazement of the world by establishing the modern nation of Israel in 1948! It was amazing! It was miraculous! It was startling (verse 15)! It was not supposed to have ever happened! The Gentile world leaders, the US, England, the USSR, France, the Arab states, they all stood slack-jawed, amazed to see abused concentration camp survivors take up rakes and shovels and rebuild the nation of their ancestors! The nations had never conceived that the God of Israel could or would accomplish such an amazing thing in modern times!

For his part, Jesus did not amaze the world at all. Outside of the New Testament he is barely if at all even mentioned during the period in which he lived, assuming as I do that he did live. None of this fits him as the referenced servant.

The Christian Church was dumbfounded as well! They had counted the Jews out; they believed they had replaced us! They proclaimed from their pulpits that God cared nothing about the Jews but then ... miracle of miracle, HaShem returned to Zion and brought His people with Him! Now the Christian world is divided between Zionists and anti-Zionists.

The USSR, which was as anti-Semitic as Nazi Germany, was stunned but rushed to recognize the new state first (although they failed to follow up by allowing the Jews there to return home to Israel for some time). The rules had changed and no one was ready for it! The US supported Israel's rebirth but for a long time kept the new nation at arm's length. Now the US appears to be turning against Israel. Everything is happening exactly as the prophets foretold. The world is again turning against us.

Of course, the current nation of Israel is not the foretold messianic theocracy it will become. the Temple has yet to be rebuilt, and the Messiah is not yet ruling from Jerusalem. Nonetheless the world is amazed, shocked, and afraid! HaShem is clearly preparing His people! Israel is back center stage! Never again to be removed from our land according to the prophets! Baruch HaShem!

Again, nothing in this prophecy is talking about the Messiah, even though he will be a major player as these events continue to unfold. The Suffering Servant is People Israel. This teachings continues into the next chapter without break.

Yeshayahu 53:

1: Who would have believed our report, and to whom was the arm of the Lord revealed?
2: And he came up like a sapling before it, and like a root from dry ground, he had neither form nor comeliness; and we saw him that he had no appearance. Now shall we desire him?
3: Despised and rejected by men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness, and as one who hides his face from us, despised and we held him of no account.

Rashi: "Who would have believed our report: So will the nations say to one another, Were we to hear from others what we see, it would be unbelievable." Who could have believed it! The "arm" or power of HaShem was revealed in middle of the Twentieth Century and His people were returning in droves from the concentration camps of desolated Europa to their God given Land from around the globe! It was amazing! Gentile powers like the UK and Russia tried to stop them but still they came! Together, by the sweat of their brows they plowed through the rocks and rebuilt their civilization with freedom and justice for all people, for the Jew first, but also for the non-Jews living among them. While the Arab countries were driving the Jews out and denying basic rights, Israel was arising and awarded equality to all of its citizens regardless of religion, race or ethnicity. Amazing! Rashi:
And he came up like a sapling before it: This people, before this greatness came to it, was a very humble people, and it came up by itself like a sapling of the saplings of the trees.
and like a root: he came up from dry land.

Israel, once bound by slavery in Egypt, a 'child' roaming in the deserts for forty years, an adolescent abused by Gentile nations the world over, enslaved again by Assyria and Babylon, victimized and subjected to harsh Christian edicts and hostile Muslim fatwas... Israel, HaShem's Suffering Servant, had now become a 'man'! Israel now stands as a solid, immovable 'tree' among trees (as a nation among the nations). HaShem promises that having become so, Israel will never again be removed from the Land of Promise (52:1)! All who bless Israel will be blessed and all who curse them will be cursed and in Israel ALL the world will be and is blessed (Genesis 12:3)!

Israel is STILL Returning!

And yet still today much of the Gentile world views Israel as the one people that rightly deserves to suffer and die! Not only does this anti-Semitic mind-set continue, it is again increasing! As Muslim missiles fall on Israel in the thousands, as knife wielding jihadis roam the streets, stabbing who ever they can, Israel is condemned by much of the world for defending itself! Today Israel remains despised by a large percentage of humanity and, in their opinion, even by God Himself (53:3). Today the USA and other once friendly nations are turning against Israel. And these nations are crumbling as a result! Israel does not need the US, the EU, nor the other countries! They need Israel if they hope to survive because GOD is with His people! If the nations do not stand with Israel they will fall before the might of al Ikhwan (the Muslim Brotherhood), Islamic State, Iran, before China, before Russia... they ARE falling by sovereign Will of HaShem, the God of Israel (Genesis 12:3).

Why do the nations hate Israel? What was Israel's offense? Why are the Jews so despised? The prophet next tells us (emphasis mine):

4: Indeed, he bore our illnesses, and our pains - he carried them, yet we accounted him as plagued, smitten by God and oppressed.
Rashi explains: Indeed, he bore our illnesses: [a-kain] an expression of 'but' in all places. But now we see that this came to him not because of his low state, but that he was chastised with pains so that all the nations be atoned for through Israel's suffering. The illness that should rightfully have come upon us, he [Israel] bore.

We find the reason to this question of why the world so despises us in verse 4: All this came upon Israel because Israel was bearing the sins of the world! Because of this, in Israel the world is guilty and ashamed. Because ISRAEL is the Suffering Servant. Israel was removed from the land and Israel died among the Gentiles, far away from the Holy Land.

5: But he was pained because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his wound we were healed. Rashi:
the chastisement of our welfare was upon him: The chastisement due to the welfare that we enjoyed, came upon him, for he was chastised so that there be peace for the entire world.
It is in this sense that Torah says:
Exodus 19:6: And you [Israel] shall be to Me a kingdom of princes and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel."
Israel then suffers on behalf of the entire planet.
This is what it means to be the "Chosen People!"
6: We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the Lord accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us.
7: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he would not open his mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter he would be brought, and like a ewe that is mute before her shearers, and he would not open his mouth.
8: From imprisonment and from judgment he is taken, and his generation who shall tell? For he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the transgression of my people, a plague befell them.
9: And he gave his grave to the wicked, and to the wealthy with his kinds of death, because he committed no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Again Rashi clarifies:
From imprisonment and from judgment he is taken: The prophet reports and says that the nations will say this at the end of days, when they see that he was taken from the imprisonment that he was imprisoned in their hands and from the judgment of torments that he suffered until now.
and his generation: The years that passed over him. who shall tell?: The tribulations that befell [Israel], for from the beginning, he was cut off and exiled from the land of the living that is the land of Israel for because of the transgression of my people, this plague came to the righteous among them.

Humanity is deeply and eternally indebted to the people of Jacob's lineage for this service! This world is 'sick', this world is sinful and estranged from HaShem our Creator. Israel, the 'Suffering Servant', pays their debts and bears their iniquities as a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6)! Jews are not "better" than anyone else, but they are unique in their divinely mandated purpose: to bless the world. Make no mistake about this.

Its not that the Jewish People are somehow 'better' than the rest. The difference is that HaShem offered Avraham and our people a holy Covenant in addition to the Covenant He made with all the world through Noah. When the Jewish Covenant was literally set in stone at Mount Sinai EVERY Jew who would ever live was personally present and accepted the 'burden of this Torah'. Through the eternal Jewish Covenant Jews were ordained to a unique ministry for the good of all life forms on this planet. Therefore to curse the Jews is to curse humanity and our collective future (Genesis 12:3).

According to Moshe Chaim Luzzatto's "The Way of God" this offer was made to the forebears of all peoples, however only Avraham accepted or was found worthy of receiving it. Take this literally or figuratively as you will. It is for this reason that Israel / the Jews became the vessels through which HaShem cleanses and blesses the entire creation. One day, through HaMashiach, the 'Lion of the Tribe of Judah', HaShem will establish the Olam Haba (the messianic world to come). These verses are not about him however. They about the people from whom he will arise.

The Holy Torah was given to the Jews because they need it to fulfill their mandated responsibilities: Bringing the blessings of HaShem to all the nations of the earth.

Noahidim are to honor and assist the Jews in this vital role. May both groups be blessed and prosper in all their ways for His Glory!

The next several verses describe the pains and humiliations the Jews underwent (and still undergo) in this process of reconciling the world to HaShem.

10: And the Lord wished to crush him, He made him ill; if his soul makes itself restitution, he shall see children, he shall prolong his days, and God's purpose shall prosper in his hand.
According to the Church, Jesus was a lifelong celibate and yet here we see clearly that the Suffering Servant has offspring, descendants. Likewise there is no record in the Gospels about Jesus having a disease and yet People Israel have suffered countless illnesses in part due to their various deprivations and the sins of the world. There simply is no way this section is talking about Jesus.
11: From the toil of his soul he would see, he would be satisfied; with his knowledge My servant would vindicate the just for many, and their iniquities he would bear.
12: Therefore, I will allot him a portion in public, and with the strong he shall share plunder, because he poured out his soul to death, and with transgressors he was counted; and he bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
The idea that anyone would try and usurp this powerful praise that HaShem bestows upon His people is unconscionable. Klal Israel, the Jewish people as a whole, are clearly the "Suffering Servant." As such they are righteous even in their individual imperfections! Indeed the majority of Jews (as the vast majority of Gentiles) are not righteous. But it doesn't matter because HaShem has declared the Jews righteous because of their service as His Suffering Servant! This is the righteousness of the Jews that the world does not understand. Through the sufferings and toils of the Jewish people the world is vindicated.

Consider that in the account of Sodom and Gomorrah HaShem agrees to share the wicked cities if ten righteous people can be found there. In this wicked world the Jewish minions stand between the wrath of God and humanity!

Now on to chapter 54 of Isaiah.

Yeshayahu 54:

1: "Sing you barren woman who has not borne; burst out into song and jubilate, you who have not experienced birth pangs, for the children of the desolate one are more than the children of the married woman," says the Lord.
2: Widen the place of your tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of your habitations, do not spare; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.
3: For right and left shall you prevail, and your seed shall inherit nations and repeople desolate cities.

Jerusalem is 'she who was as though she had not borne' and Edom is 'the children of the desolate one' according to Rashi.

Avraham and Sara were childless, barren. They cried out to God for offspring and HaShem promised it, but they acted without faith! As a result of this lapse in faith, Ishmael was born of Avraham and Hagar, the Egyptian slave. With that birth came so many of the problems the Jews and the world have had ever since. Hagar through Ishmael produced a people great in number, the Northern Arabs. Jerusalem, the daughters of Zion, of Sarah, appear to be nothing by comparison. When these prophecies of Isaiah are realized however the descendants of the rightful mother, Sarah (i.e. People Israel), will outnumber the children of Hagar and they will be vindicated! Through the faithfulness of HaShem, Avraham and Sarah gave birth to Isaac and through him; the Chosen family began; so shout for joy! Sing out O Israel because through Sarah will the Shiloh emerge when the time is ripe!

In these future days, the descendants of Avraham and Sarah will enlarge the territories of Israel on all sides (verses 2,3). Whether this means they will regain all the lands granted to our Patriarchs or perhaps go beyond them is a matter of debate. Under the righteous rule of Shiloh HaMashiach however, the "Suffering Servant" Israel will awaken to the greatness intended and desired for them by HaShem from the beginning (Psalm 82). Then they will return to the Promised Land -- which began restoration in 1948 and continues today (52:1 and on) -- and they will be exalted beyond their boundaries on all sides. In that day ALL of Eretz Israel will be secure and "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." and "he who holds the Scepter of Judah" will reign (Isaiah 11:9). At that time HaMashiach, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, will guide all nations of the earth under his global administration (Genesis 49:10; Zechariah 8:23) and peace and freedom will be everywhere. His rule will be just and will lead to all 'desolate places' being restored. Israel, the Suffering Servant, will achieve the betterment and blessings of the entire world (Genesis 12:3).

4: Fear not, for you [Israel] shall not be ashamed, and be not embarrassed for you shall not be put to shame, for the shame of your youth you shall forget, and the disgrace of your widowhood you shall no longer remember.
In the days of the Servant's youth they sinned: they doubted, they worshiped idols, they made a golden calf to replace HaShem as Moshe tarried on the Mount! Some envious Gentile teachers claim that they have replaced the Jews as the Covenant people! Various versions of this ongoing heresy are taught by the Catholic Church, Islam, the Protestant sects, the Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, the Presbyterians, the Quakers, Islam, and several other groups. HaShem scoffs at these assertions and His people continue to suffer because of them.

If you believe Jesus is the Suffering Servant you must also accept that he disgraced and shamed himself in his youth! Because this servant did! You must believe that he worshiped idols, because this servant did. You must believe he fathered children, because this servant did... Tanach admits to our failings openly. The god-man of the Church supposedly never erred. He is not and can not be the one discussed in these three chapters.

What does HaShem say about the failings of the Suffering Servant?

HaShem says to His people, No! You must forget the sins of your youth! You will be brave! Be confident O Israel! (verses 3,4). Proclaim the goodness of HaShem to your people and to the Gentile nations (Jesus refused to speak with the Gentiles: Matthew 15:24)!

So what did happen because of the sins of the Chosen People? Were their sins simply ignored? Did HaShem simply overlook their transgressions? This is not the way HaShem deals with His people!

5: For your Master is your Maker, the Lord of Hosts is His name, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, shall be called the God of all the earth.
6: For, like a wife who is deserted and distressed in spirit has the Lord called you, and a wife of one's youth who was rejected, said your God.
7: "For a small moment have I forsaken you, and with great mercy will I gather you.
8: With a little wrath did I hide My countenance for a moment from you, and with everlasting kindness will I have compassion on you," said your Redeemer, the Lord.
The Christian Church declares itself the "Bride of Christ," (whom they claim is God in violation of Torah), however consider what HaShem says! "For your Master is your Maker, the Lord of Hosts is His name, and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, shall be called the God of all the earth." (verse 5). There is NO Redeemer other than HaShem! HaShem is the husband of the Jews and He alone is our Deliverer! He alone delivers all those who will be delivered:
Deuteronomy 32:39 See now that it is I! I am the One, and there is no god like Me! I cause death and grant life. I strike, but I heal, and no one can rescue from My Hand!

The Suffering Servant sinned against HaShem as Isaiah clearly acknowledges. We Jews have sinned against HaShem! In order to claim that Jesus is Suffering Servant discussed by Isaiah one must admit his fallible humanity! His sins. This is something few Christians are willing to do.

Since the destruction of the Temple and banishment from their Land in 70 CE the Suffering Servant accomplished something no other people in history have ever matched. Without a homeland or place to call their own, the Jewish nation managed to maintain its ethic and religious identity for nearly two thousand years! THAT was a miracle. THAT was foreseen by Isaiah.


With the emerging New World Order in the late 1800's the Jews were facing destruction through forced and coerced assimilation, antisemitism and intermarriage. Certain Jewish leaders decided that if Israel were to survive much longer as a distinct people they would have to have to return home to our own land. These were not by and large religious but ethnic Jews. They called themselves Zionists because they were determine to re-establish the Jewish homeland of Mount Zion.

In time the world powers acknowledged this yearning. Britain offered an African homeland for the Jews but the Zionists rejected it. They wisely realized that there is only one suitable place the Jewish nation: Eretz Y'israel. The promises of the Balfour declaration (the declaration issued on November 2, 1917 by the British foreign secretary Balfour providing for the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel) proved largely hollow when Britain sided with the Muslims. Zionists continued working for the re-establishment of the Jewish Nation in Palestine (as the Romans renamed Judea and Samaria).

While Zionism was not a religious movement, they were Jews working for the betterment of their people and the world. It is clear in hindsight that HaShem was actively involved in their affairs from the very beginning. Indeed for most of Israel's history the Ioudaioi or Yehudi (i.e. the Judeans) were considered an ethnic group with a common religious identity rather than a religious group with a common ethnic background. The early Zionists focused on the Jews as a distinct ethnic group not on their religious views. They claimed historic and human rights to the land rather than appealing to the Torah. This caused some difficulty with the leaders of the Jewish Orthodoxy.

HaShem's concern with Israel is always with the people whose Temple is in Jerusalem. We minimize the importance of Jewish history, the holy Covenant, and our significance in the grand scheme of things as the Suffering Servant when we think of Judaism as only a religion! It is so much more than that.

As the 1900's continued antisemitism throughout Europe, the US and elsewhere increased. The uncomfortable peace between the War-to-End-all-Wars and the next war created uneasiness and uncertainty for everyone. As usual, all of this chaos was blamed on the Jews.

As the Nazi Movement gained popular support among Germans and others, backed by such powerful people as Neville Chamberlain, Pius XII, Cardinal Spellman, Father Caughlin, Joseph Kennedy, Henry Ford, Adolph Coors, Charles Lindburgh and many others, antisemitism rapidly increased around the world and the Suffering Servant suffered all the more. This trend is now repeating.

The ensuing Shoah or Holocaust was horrid beyond comprehension! European Jews cried out to HaShem for refuge and protection and yet the 'Nightmare Years' continued (verse 7) as the Suffering Servants suffered as never before in history. No one can explain why HaShem allowed this horror to happen, nor to continue for six long years.

When this mass genocide was finally over, HaShem called His people back to Eretz Y'israel and on Erev Shabbat, the 5th of Iyar in 5708, which is to say, on May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation for the first time in over 2500 years. Yes, Israel, IS the Suffering Servant of HaShem! He will never forsake us (52:1)! Never again will Gentile rulers again control the Holy Land of the Jews, the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52).

When studying the Tanach, it is absolutely essential to read with the understanding that the Jews are now, have always been and will always be the Chosen People. Understand this, even hypothetically, and you will discover something far different and more glorious in these verses: You will discover the truth about the Suffering Servant and about GOD.

Zechariah 8:21 And the inhabitants of one shall go to another, saying, "Let us go to pray before the Lord and to entreat the Lord of Hosts. I, too, will go."
22 And many peoples and powerful nations shall come to entreat the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.
23 So said the Lord of Hosts: In those days, when ten men of all the languages of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of a Jewish man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."
"You worship you know not what: we know what we worship:
for salvation is of the Jews

    -- Jesus at John 4:22

For more information on Isaiah chapters 52-54 see my study:

Prophecy: Aliyah, Christians, and Jewish Israel

Be the Blessing you were created to be
Don't let the perfect defeat the good

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