Isaiah 53:3
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) He is despised and rejected.—Better, for the last word, forsaken. This had been the crowning sorrow of the righteous sufferer of the Old Testament (Job 17:15; Job 19:14). It was to complete the trial of the perfect sufferer of the New (Matthew 26:56).

A man of sorrows . . .—The words “sorrow” and “grief” in the Heb. imply the thought of bodily pain or disease. (Comp. Exodus 3:7; Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 1:18.) Men have sometimes raised the rather idle question whether the body of our Lord was subject to disease, and have decided on à priori grounds that it was not. The prophet’s words point to the true view, that this was an essential condition of His fellowship with humanity. If we do not read of any actual disease in the Gospel, we at least have evidence of an organisation every nerve of which thrilled with its sensitiveness to pain, and was quickly exhausted (Luke 8:46; John 4:6; Mark 4:36). The intensity of His sympathy made Him feel the pain of others as His own (Matthew 8:17), the “blood and water” from the pierced heart, the physical results of the agony in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44; John 19:34), indicate a nature subject to the conditions of our humanity.

We hid as it were . . .—Literally, As the hiding of the face from us, or, on our part. The words start from the picture of the leper covering his face from men, or their covering their own faces, that they might not look upon him (Leviticus 13:45). In Lamentations 4:15, we have a like figurative application. (Comp. also Job 19:13-19; Job 30:10.

53:1-3 No where in all the Old Testament is it so plainly and fully prophesied, that Christ ought to suffer, and then to enter into his glory, as in this chapter. But to this day few discern, or will acknowledge, that Divine power which goes with the word. The authentic and most important report of salvation for sinners, through the Son of God, is disregarded. The low condition he submitted to, and his appearance in the world, were not agreeable to the ideas the Jews had formed of the Messiah. It was expected that he should come in pomp; instead of that, he grew up as a plant, silently, and insensibly. He had nothing of the glory which one might have thought to meet with him. His whole life was not only humble as to outward condition, but also sorrowful. Being made sin for us, he underwent the sentence sin had exposed us to. Carnal hearts see nothing in the Lord Jesus to desire an interest in him. Alas! by how many is he still despised in his people, and rejected as to his doctrine and authority!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 1 Kings 22:6-15; Job 7:15; Job 10:20; Isaiah 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 Proverbs 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 Daniel 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 Deuteronomy 7:15; Deuteronomy 28:61; Isaiah 1:5; but it also means anxiety, affliction Ecclesiastes 5:16; and then any evil or calamity Ecclesiastes 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 Hebrews 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 Leviticus 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.'

3. rejected—"forsaken of men" [Gesenius]. "Most abject of men." Literally, "He who ceases from men," that is, is no longer regarded as a man [Hengstenberg]. (See on [851]Isa 52:14; Isa 49:7).

man of sorrows—that is, whose distinguishing characteristic was sorrows.

acquainted with—familiar by constant contact with.

grief—literally, "disease"; figuratively for all kinds of calamity (Jer 6:14); leprosy especially represented this, being a direct judgment from God. It is remarkable Jesus is not mentioned as having ever suffered under sickness.

and we hid … faces—rather, as one who causes men to hide their faces from Him (in aversion) [Maurer]. Or, "He was as an hiding of the face before it," that is, as a thing before which a man covers his face in disgust [Hengstenberg]. Or, "as one before whom is the covering of the face"; before whom one covers the face in disgust [Gesenius].

we—the prophet identifying himself with the Jews. See Horsley's view (see on [852]Isa 53:1).

esteemed … not—negative contempt; the previous words express positive.

He is despised and rejected of men; accounted as the scum of mankind, as one unworthy of the company and conversation of all men.

A man of sorrows; whose whole life was filled with, and in a manner made up of, an uninterrupted succession of sorrows and sufferings.

Acquainted with grief; who had constant experience of and familiar converse with grievous afflictions; for knowledge is oft taken practically, or for experience, as Genesis 3:5 2 Corinthians 5:21, and elsewhere.

We hid as it were our faces from him; we scorned and loathed to look upon him. Or, as others,

he hid as it were his face from us, as one ashamed to show his face, or to be seen by any men, as persons conscious to themselves of any great deformity do commonly shun the sight of men, as lepers did, Leviticus 13:45.

He was despised, and we esteemed him not: here are divers words expressing the same thing, to signify both the utmost degree of contempt, and how strange and wonderful a thing it was, that so excellent a person should be so despised. He is despised, and rejected of men,.... Or, "ceaseth from men" (f); was not admitted into the company and conversation of men, especially of figure; or ceased from the class of men, in the opinion of others; he was not reckoned among men, was accounted a worm, and no man; or, if a man, yet not in his senses, a madman, nay, one that had a devil: or "deficient of men"; he had none about him of any rank or figure in life, only some few fishermen, and some women, and publicans, and harlots. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "the last of men", the most abject and contemptible of mankind; despised, because of the meanness of his birth, and parentage, and education, and of his outward appearance in public life; because of his apostles and audience; because of his doctrines, not agreeably to carnal reason, and his works, some of them being done on the sabbath day, and, as they maliciously suggested, by the help of Satan; and especially because of his ignominious sufferings and death:

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: or "known by grief" (g); he was known by his troubles, notorious for them; these were his constant companions, his familiar acquaintance, with whom he was always conversant; his life was one continued series of sorrow, from the cradle to the cross; in his infancy his life was sought for by Herod, and he was obliged to be taken by his parents, and flee into Egypt; he ate his bread in sorrow, and with the sweat of his brow; he met with much sorrow from the hardness and unbelief of men's hearts, and from the contradiction of sinners against himself, and even much from the frowardness of his own disciples; much from the temptations of Satan, and more from the wrath and justice of God, as the surety of his people; he was exceeding sorrowful in the garden, when his sweat was as it were great drops of blood; and when on the cross, under the hidings of his Father's face, under a sense of divine displeasure for the sins of his people, and enduring the pains and agonies of a shameful and an accursed death; he was made up of sorrows, and grief was familiar to him. Some render it, "broken with infirmity", or "grief" (h):

and we hid as it were our faces from him; as one loathsome and abominable as having an aversion to him, and abhorrence of him, as scorning to look at him, being unworthy of any notice. Some render it, "he hid as it were his face from us" (i); as conscious of his deformity and loathsomeness, and of his being a disagreeable object, as they said; but the former is best:

he was despised, and we esteemed him not; which is repeated to show the great contempt cast upon him, and the disesteem he was had in by all sorts of persons; professors and profane, high and low, rich poor, rulers and common people, priests, Scribes, and Pharisees; no set or order of men had any value for him; and all this disgrace and dishonour he was to undergo, to repair the loss of honour the Lord sustained by the sin of man, whose surety Christ became.

(f) "desiit viris", Montanus, Heb.; "desitus virorum", Piscator; "deficiens virorum", Cocceius; "destitutus viris", Vitringa. (g) "notus aegritudine", Montanus; "notus infirmitate," Cocceius. (h) "Attritus infirmitate"; so some in Vatablus, and R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel. Moed. fol. 96. 1.((i) "velut homo abscondens faciem a nobis", Junius & Tremellius; "et tanquam aliquis qui obtegit faciem a nobis", Piscator; "ut res tecta facie averanda prae nobis", Cocceius.

He is despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with {e} grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

(e) Which was by God's singular providence for the comfort of sinners, He 4:15.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Not only did the Servant fail to attract his contemporaries (Isaiah 53:2); there was that in his appearance which excited positive aversion. He is represented as one stricken with loathsome and disfiguring disease, probably leprosy (see on Isaiah 53:4), so that men instinctively recoiled from him in horror and disgust.

He is despised and rejected of men] Better, Despised and man-forsaken, i.e. one with whom men refuse to associate, or, perhaps, one who renounces the hope of human fellowship. The corresponding verb is used by Job when he complains of the estrangement of his friends: “my kinsfolk have failed” (ch. Isaiah 19:14).

For sorrows … grief, read pains … sickness. Although both words may be used tropically of mental suffering, it is plain that in the figure of this verse and the following they are to be taken in their literal sense.

and we hid &c.] More literally, and as one from whom there is a hiding of the face; his appearance was such as to cause men involuntarily to cover their face from the sight of him. The expression is similar to another phrase of Job’s: “I am a spitting in the face” (Isaiah 17:6). For the idea cf. Job 19:19; Job 30:10. Leprosy is again suggested. The rendering of LXX. and Vulg. “and as one who hid his face from us” is grammatically defensible, but conveys a wrong idea; the Servant “hid not his face from shame and spitting” (ch. Isaiah 50:6).

esteemed him not] (lit “reckoned him not”), held him of no account.Verse 3. - He is despised; rather, was despised (comp. Isaiah 49:7 and Psalm 22:6). Men's contempt was shown, partly in the little attention which they paid to his teaching, partly in their treatment of him on the night and day before the Crucifixion (Matthew 26:67, 68; Matthew 27:29-31; Mark 14:65; Mark 15:18, 19, etc.). Rejected of men; rather, perhaps, forsaken of men - "one from whom men held themselves aloof" (Cheyne); comp. Job 19:14. Our Lord had at no time more than a "little flock" attached to him. Of these, after a time, "many went back, and walked no more with him" (John 6:66). Some, who believed on him, would only come to him by night (John 3:2). All the "rulers" and great men held aloof from him (John 7:48). At the end, even his apostles "forsook him, and fled" (Matthew 26:56). A Man of sorrows. The word translated "sorrows" means also pains of any kind. But the beautiful rendering of our version may well stand, since there are many places where the word used certainly means "sorrow" and nothing else (see Exodus 3:7; 2 Chronicles 6:29; Psalm 32:10; Psalm 38:17; Ecclesiastes 1:18; Jeremiah 30:15; Jeremiah 45:3; Lamentations 1:12, 18, etc.). Aquila well translates, ἄνδρα ἀλγηδόνων The "sorrows" of Jesus appear on every page of the Gospels. Acquainted with grief; literally, with sickness; but as aeger and aegritudo are applied in Latin both to the mind and to the body, so kholi, the word here used, would seem to be in Hebrew (see Jeremiah 6:7; Jeremiah 10:19). The translation of the Authorized Version may therefore be retained. We hid as it were our faces from him; literally, and there was as it were the hiding of the face from him. Some suppose the hiding of God's face to be intended; but the context, which describes the treatment of the Servant by his fellow-men, makes the meaning given in our version far preferable. Men turned their faces from him when they met him, would not see him, would not recognize him (comp. Job 19:13-17; Job 30:10). Despised. A repetition very characteristic of Isaiah (see Isaiah 1:7; Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 6:11; Isaiah 14:25; Isaiah 15:8; Isaiah 17:12, 13, etc.). This salvation in its immediate manifestation is the liberation of the exiles; and on the ground of what the prophet sees in spirit, he exclaims to them (as in Isaiah 48:20), in Isaiah 52:11, Isaiah 52:12 : "Go ye forth, go ye forth, go out from thence, lay hold of no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her, cleanse yourselves, ye that bear the vessels of Jehovah. For ye shall not go out in confusion, and ye shall not go forth in flight: for Jehovah goeth before you, and the God of Israel is your rear-guard." When they go out from thence, i.e., from Babylon, they are not to touch anything unclean, i.e., they are not to enrich themselves with the property of their now subjugated oppressors, as was the case at the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:36). It is to be a holy procession, at which they are to appear morally as well as corporeally unstained. But those who bear the vessels of Jehovah, i.e., the vessels of the temple, are not only not to defile themselves, but are to purify themselves (hibbârū with the tone upon the last syllable, a regular imperative niphal of bârar). This is an indirect prophecy, and was fulfilled in the fact that Cyrus directed the golden and silver vessels, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought to Babylon, to be restored to the returning exiles as their rightful property (Ezra 1:7-11). It would thus be possible for them to put themselves into the right attitude for their departure, since it would not take place in precipitous haste (bechippâzon), as the departure from Egypt did (Deuteronomy 16:3, cf., Exodus 12:39), nor like a flight, but they would go forth under the guidance of Jehovah. מאסּפכם (with the ē changed into the original ı̆) does not man, "He bringeth you, the scattered ones, together," but according to Numbers 10:25; Joshua 6:9, Joshua 6:13, "He closes your procession," - He not only goes before you to lead you, but also behind you, to protect you (as in Exodus 14:19). For the me'assēph, or the rear-guard of an army, is its keystone, and has to preserve the compactness of the whole.

The division of the chapters generally coincides with the several prophetic addresses. But here it needs emendation. Most of the commentators are agreed that the words "Behold my servant," etc. (hinnēh yaskı̄l ‛abhdı̄) commence a new section, like hēn ‛abhdı̄ (behold my servant) in Isaiah 42:1.

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