Isaiah 53: Introduction
Mr. Shulman has put a document on the network that is quoted below. He comments on Isaiah 53. His commentary tries to refute the explanation that the suffering servant in these verses refers to Jesus Christ suffering for the sins of His people. He then tries to explain that the suffering servant is Israel. Both his points are refuted.
The text of his commentary that is copied here is indicated with <quote>.
<quote> I thought you people would appreciate being the first to see the full version of my commentary on Isaiah 53. It still requires some editing and revision, especially on part 3. I think it contains the fullest explanation and discussion of the subject that now exists anywhere. Enjoy and write to me your comments.
<quote> Moshe Shulman
<quote> The question of Isaiah 53 and what it means comes up in every discussion with a Christian. For that reason, I have collected information that I have available and compiled the following summary. I hope that the readers will look at it from beginning to end, consider the information presented and judge it favorably. Because of the amount of information, please read all three sections before you pass judgement. Some questions that you might have are answered later on.
<quote> The Prophecy of Isaiah 53 is considered by many Christians the most important prophecy in the whole Tenach. They feel they have from it their needed 'proof' that their Messiah was to die.
No, it is just the other way round. In the case of Isaiah 53, we Christians do not postulate a certain New Testament teaching and look for proofs for it. It's just the other way round. The New Testament teaching of a suffering servant is based upon the Old Testament. It's based upon that very Old Testament that says the Messiah has to suffer and to die.
<quote> (Manny Brotman of the Messianic Jewish Movement International calls it the 'main messianic chapter in the Jewish Bible') They feel this way even though neither the word 'Messiah', 'king' 'son of David' or any of the code names for the Messiah that are used in the Tenach are ever mentioned in this passage.
Shulman, the writer of this commentary, interprets the passage of Israel. He feels so and maintains it even though the word "Israel" is never used in the entire passage.
His remark that the words 'Messiah', 'king', 'son of David', or any other names for the Messiah, are not mentioned in this passage, serve to arouse a certain prejudice in the readers against the Christian interpretation. But I warn the readers that the same suspicion ought to be aroused in them against the interpretation Shulman advocates. For it may be observed that Shulman interprets the passage as Israel, even though the word Israel is not found in the entire passage.
Besides, it should be said that his statement is in error. He wrote that none of the code names for the Messiah that are used in the Tanach are ever mentioned in this passage. This statement is wrong. When you look to verse 52:13 and 53:11, you will notice that the words "My servant" are used. "Servant" or "My servant" is one of the names that are used for the Messiah.
<quote> They maintain this belief even though the belief of a dying Messiah is contrary to ALL the other clearly Messianic prophecies, which show that the Messiah will appear and succeed, all within a short amount of time.
Also this statement is in error. "The belief of a dying Messiah is contrary to all the other clearly messianic prophecies", says the writer. This is not true. What do you think of this one? And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off (Daniel 9:26). Is this not a clearly messianic prophecy that Messiah shall die? Note that I take the word "mashiach" as a title: "Messiah", and not as a noun, "an anointed".
Furthermore, what would it matter when all the other Messianic prophecies would speak of the kingship of Him, except Isaiah 53? Should we therefore re-interpret Isaiah 53?
<quote> There are many arguments and counter-arguments that I will be covering here. I would like to approach this important prophecy from three angles.
<quote> 1. Why the clear simple meaning of the text of Isaiah 53 indicates that it was not and cannot have been fulfilled by J. Many times missionaries will read it and assume, it can only mean J. The problems with associating Isaiah 53 with J are usually ignored in most discussions. I will deal with this first as this is the primary Biblical text used by Christians, and should be answered before we explore the true meaning of this passage. (In fact after this section it is totally unnecessary to explain any further, since if it is not J. it is invalid to use it as a proof of Christianity.)
<quote> 2. Who does Isaiah 53 refer to and how do I know it. I will go through this important passage verse by verse starting at Isaiah 52:13 which is acknowledged by the overwhelming majority of sources as part of the prophecy of Isaiah 53. It should be noted that the Masoretic Text actually divides this text before Isaiah 52:13 and not before Isaiah 53.
<quote> 3. Finally I will explain the true meaning of some of those Rabbinic texts that are used by missionaries in their claim that the Rabbis held a different view as to the simple meaning of the prophet then the one I have here presented.
<quote> We will explore the nature of Rabbinic commentary, and the deceptions that are used with regards to them by those who would falsify their teachings. From this we will see that the Rabbis' understanding of the simple meaning of this text and the view I present here are one and the same.