Isaiah 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) All we like sheep have gone astray . . .—The confession of repentant Israel (Psalm 119:176), of repentant humanity (1Peter 2:25), was also the thought present to the mind of the Servant, as in Matthew 9:36; John 10:11.

Hath laid on him.—Better, as in the margin, hath made to light on him. The words express the fact, but do not explain the mystery, of the substitutive satisfaction. The two sides of that mystery are stated in the form of a seeming paradox. God does not punish the righteous with the wicked (Genesis 18:25). He accepts the suffering of the righteous for the wicked (Mark 10:45).

Isaiah 53:6. All we — All mankind; like sheep — Which are exceedingly apt to go astray, and lose themselves; have gone astray — From God, and from the way of truth and duty; of wisdom, piety, and virtue; of holiness and happiness. We have turned every one to his own way — In general, to the way of sin, which may well be called a man’s own way, because sin is natural to us, inherent in us, born with us; and, in particular, to those several paths which several men choose, according to their different opinions and circumstances. And the Lord hath laid — Hebrew, hath made to meet on him, as all the rivers meet in the sea. The iniquity of us all —

Not properly, for he knew no sin; but the punishment of iniquity, as the word עוןis frequently used. That which was due for all the sins of all mankind, which must needs be so heavy a load, that if he had not been God as well as man he must have sunk under the burden.53:4-9 In these verses is an account of the sufferings of Christ; also of the design of his sufferings. It was for our sins, and in our stead, that our Lord Jesus suffered. We have all sinned, and have come short of the glory of God. Sinners have their beloved sin, their own evil way, of which they are fond. Our sins deserve all griefs and sorrows, even the most severe. We are saved from the ruin, to which by sin we become liable, by laying our sins on Christ. This atonement was to be made for our sins. And this is the only way of salvation. Our sins were the thorns in Christ's head, the nails in his hands and feet, the spear in his side. He was delivered to death for our offences. By his sufferings he purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God, to mortify our corruptions, which are the distempers of our souls. We may well endure our lighter sufferings, if He has taught us to esteem all things but loss for him, and to love him who has first loved us.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 1 Peter 2:25 : 'For ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.' Compare Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; Psalm 119:176; Ezekiel 34:5; Zechariah 10:2; Matthew 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 (1 Samuel 22:17; to kill, to slay Judges 8:21; Judges 15:12; 2 Samuel 1:15. It also means to light upon, to meet with anyone Genesis 28:11; Genesis 32:2. Hence, also to make peace with anyone; to strike a league or compact Isaiah 64:4. It is rendered, in our English version, 'reacheth to' Joshua 19:11, Joshua 19:22, Joshua 19:26-27, Joshua 19:34; 'came,' Joshua 16:7; 'met' and 'meet' Genesis 32:1; Exodus 23:4; Numbers 35:19; Joshua 2:16; Joshua 18:10; Ruth 2:22; 1 Samuel 10:5; Isaiah 64:5; Amos 5:19; 'fail' Judges 8:21; 1 Samuel 22:17; 2 Samuel 1:15; 1 Kings 2:29; 'entreat' Genesis 18:8; Ruth 1:16; Jeremiah 15:11; 'make intercession' Isaiah 59:16; Isaiah 53:12; Jeremiah 7:16; Jeremiah 27:18; Jeremiah 36:25; 'he that comes between' Job 36:22; and 'occur' 1 Kings 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 Isaiah 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.

6. Penitent confession of believers and of Israel in the last days (Zec 12:10).

sheep … astray—(Ps 119:176; 1Pe 2:25). The antithesis is, "In ourselves we were scattered; in Christ we are collected together; by nature we wander, driven headlong to destruction; in Christ we find the way to the gate of life" [Calvin]. True, also, literally of Israel before its coming restoration (Eze 34:5, 6; Zec 10:2, 6; compare with Eze 34:23, 24; Jer 23:4, 5; also Mt 9:36).

laid—"hath made to light on Him" [Lowth]. Rather, "hath made to rush upon Him" [Maurer].

the iniquity—that is, its penalty; or rather, as in 2Co 5:21; He was not merely a sin offering (which would destroy the antithesis to "righteousness"), but "sin for us"; sin itself vicariously; the representative of the aggregate sin of all mankind; not sins in the plural, for the "sin" of the world is one (Ro 5:16, 17); thus we are made not merely righteous, but righteousness, even "the righteousness of God." The innocent was punished as if guilty, that the guilty might be rewarded as if innocent. This verse could be said of no mere martyr.

All we, all mankind, the Jews no less than the Gentiles,

like sheep, which are simple and foolish creatures, and exceeding apt to straggle and lose themselves, have gone astray from God, and from the way of his precepts, in which he put our first parents, and in which he commanded us to walk.

To his own way; in general, to the way and course of sin, which may well be called a man’s own way, as sins are called men’s own lusts, Jam 1:14 2 Peter 3:3, and elsewhere, because sin is natural to us, inherent in us, born with us, and very dear to us; and in particular, to those several paths of divers lusts which several men choose and follow, according to their differing opinions, inclinations, occasions, and circumstances.

Hath laid, Heb. hath made to meet, as all the rivers meet in the sea.

The iniquity; not properly, for so he knew no sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21; but the punishment of iniquity, as that word is most frequently used, as Genesis 4:1:3 Leviticus 20:17, &c.; that which was due for all the sins of all his people, whether Jews or Gentiles, which must needs be so great and heavy a lead, that if he had not been God as well as man, he must have sunk under the burden of them. This was actually verified in Christ. And both this and divers other passages here do as manifestly and fully point at Christ, as if they were not a prophetical representation of things to come, but an historical relation of them after they were done. Nor do I see how they can be excused from the fearful wresting of the Scripture that expound these places of the prophet Jeremiah, of any other person but Christ. All we like sheep have gone astray,.... Here the prophet represents all the elect of God, whether Jews or Gentiles; whom he compares to "sheep", not for their good qualities, but for their foolishness and stupidity; and particularly for their being subject to go astray from the shepherd, and the fold, and from their good pastures, and who never return of themselves, until they are looked up, and brought back by the shepherd, or owner of them; so the people of God, in a state of nature, are like the silly sheep, they go astray from God, are alienated from the life of him, deviate from the rule of his word, err from the right way, and go into crooked paths, which lead to destruction; and never return of themselves, of their own will, and by their own power, until they are returned, by powerful and efficacious grace, unto the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls; see 1 Peter 2:25 where the apostle has a manifest respect to this passage:

we have turned everyone to his own way; and that is an evil one, a dark and slippery one, a crooked one, the end of it is ruin; yet this is a way of a man's own choosing and approving, and in which he delights; and it may not only intend the way of wickedness in general, common to all men in a state of nature, but a particular way of sinning, peculiar to each; some are addicted to one sin, and some to another, and have their own way of committing the same sin; men turn their faces from God, and their backs upon him, and look to their own way, and set their faces towards it, and their hearts on it; and which seems right and pleasing to them, yet the end of it are the ways of death; and so bent are men on these ways, though so destructive, that nothing but omnipotent grace can turn them out of them, and to the Lord; and which is done in consequence of what follows:

and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all; that is, God the Father, against whom we have sinned, from whom we have turned, and whose justice must be satisfied; he has laid on Christ, his own Son, the sins of all his elect ones; which are as it were collected together, and made one bundle and burden of, and therefore expressed in the singular number, "iniquity", and laid on Christ, and were bore by him, even all the sins of all God's elect; a heavy burden this! which none but the mighty God could bear; this was typified by laying of hands, and laying of sins upon the sacrifice, and putting the iniquities of Israel upon the head of the scapegoat, by whom they were bore, and carried away. The words may be rendered, "he made to meet upon him the iniquity of us all" (r); the elect of God, as they live in every part of the world, their sins are represented as coming from all quarters, east, west, north, and south; and as meeting in Christ, as they did, when he suffered as their representative on the cross: or "he made to rush, or fall upon him the iniquity of us all" (s); our sins, like a large and mighty army, beset him around, and fell upon him in a hostile manner, and were the cause of his death; by which means the law and justice of God had full satisfaction, and our recovery from ruin and destruction is procured, which otherwise must have been the consequence of turning to our own ways; so the ancient Jews understood this of the Messiah. R. Cahana (t) on these words, "binding his ass's colt to the choice vine", Genesis 49:11 says,

"as the ass bears burdens, and the garments of travellers, so the King Messiah will bear upon him the sins of the whole world; as it is said, "the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all",'' Isaiah 53:6.

(r) "fecit occarrere in eum iniquitatem omnium hostrum", Montanus; "occurrere fecit ei, vel irruere fecit in ilium", Vatablus. (s) "Incurrere fecit in eum", Cocceius, Vitringa, Forerius; "irruere fecit in ilium", Vatablus; sic Syr. "fecit ut incurreret iniquitas", Piscator. (t) Apud Galatin. de Cathol. Ver. I. 10. c. 6. p. 663, and Siphre in ib. l. 8. c. 20. p. 599.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the {i} iniquity of us all.

(i) Meaning, the punishment of our iniquity, and not the fault itself.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Looking back on their former irreligious condition the people see that their rejection of the Servant was the natural outcome of the heedless and inconsiderate selfishness in which they were living. For the figure of the strayed sheep, cf. Psalm 119:176; Matthew 9:36; Matthew 10:6; Luke 15:4.

For have gone … have turned, read had gone … had turned.

every one to his own way] selfishly following his individual impulses and interests; cf. Isaiah 56:11.

hath laid on him the iniquity] made to light on him the guilt.Verse 6. - All we like sheep have gone astray. "All we" means either the whole nation of Israel, which "went astray" in the wilderness of sin (Psalm 107:4; Psalm 119:176; Ezekiel 34:6), or else the whole race of mankind, which had wandered from the right path, and needed atonement and redemption even more than Israel itself We have turned every one to his own way. Collectively and individually, the whole world had sinned. There was "none that did good" absolutely - "no, not one" (Psalm 14:3). All had quitted "the way of the Lord" (Isaiah 40:3) to walk in their "own ways" (Isaiah 66:3). The Lord hath laid on him; literally, the Lord caused to light upon him. God the Father, as the primary Disposer of all things, lays upon the Son the burden, which the Son voluntarily accepts. He comes into the world to do the Father's will. He prays to the Father, "Let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). So St. John says that the Father "sent the Son to be the Propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). And St. Paul tells us that God (the Father) "made him to be sin for us who knew no sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21). It does not lessen the Son's exceeding mercy and loving-kindness in accepting the burden, that it was laid upon him by the Father. The iniquity of us all (compare the initial "All we"). The redemption is as universal as the sin, at any rate potentially. Christ on the cross made "a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice... for the sins of the whole world." The prophecy concerning him passes now into an address to him, as in Isaiah 49:8 (cf., Isaiah 49:7), which sinks again immediately into an objective tone. "Just as many were astonished at thee: so disfigured, his appearance was not human, and his form not like that of the children of men: so will he make many nations to tremble; kings will shut their mouth at him: for they see what has not been told them, and discover what they have not heard." Both Oehler and Hahn suppose that the first clause is addressed to Israel, and that it is here pointed away from its own degradation, which excited such astonishment, to the depth of suffering endured by the One man. Hahn's principal reason, which Oehler adopts, is the sudden leap that we should otherwise have to assume from the second person to the third - an example of "negligence" which we can hardly impute to the prophet. But a single glance at Isaiah 42:20 and Isaiah 1:29 is sufficient to show how little force there is in this principal argument. We should no doubt expect עליכם or עליך after what has gone before, if the nation were addressed; but it is difficult to see what end a comparison between the sufferings of the nation and those of the One man, which merely places the sufferings of the two in an external relation to one another, could be intended to answer; whilst the second kēn (so), which evidently introduces an antithesis, is altogether unexplained. The words are certainly addressed to the servant of Jehovah; and the meaning of the sicut (just as) in Isaiah 52:14, and of the sic (so) which introduces the principal sentence in Isaiah 52:15, is, that just as His degradation was the deepest degradation possible, so His glorification would be of the loftiest kind. The height of the exaltation is held up as presenting a perfect contrast to the depth of the degradation. The words, "so distorted was his face, more than that of a man," form, as has been almost unanimously admitted since the time of Vitringa, a parenthesis, containing the reason for the astonishment excited by the servant of Jehovah. Stier is wrong in supposing that this first "so" (kēn) refers to ka'ăsher (just as), in the sense of "If men were astonished at thee, there was ground for the astonishment." Isaiah 52:15 would not stand out as an antithesis, if we adopted this explanation; moreover, the thought that the fact corresponded to the impression which men received, is a very tame and unnecessary one; and the change of persons in sentences related to one another in this manner is intolerably harsh; whereas, with our view of the relation in which the sentences stand to one another, the parenthesis prepares the way for the sudden change from a direct address to a declaration. Hitherto many had been astonished at the servant of Jehovah: shâmēm, to be desolate or waste, to be thrown by anything into a desolate or benumbed condition, to be startled, confused, as it were petrified, by paralyzing astonishment (Leviticus 26:32; Ezekiel 26:16). To such a degree (kēn, adeo) was his appearance mishchath mē'ı̄sh, and his form mibbenē 'âdâm (sc., mishchath). We might take mishchath as the construct of mishchâth, as Hitzig does, since this connecting form is sometimes used (e.g., Isaiah 33:6) even without any genitive relation; but it may also be the absolute, syncopated from משׁחתתּ equals משׁחתת (Hvernick and Stier), like moshchath in Malachi 1:14, or, what we prefer, after the form mirmas (Isaiah 10:6), with the original ă, without the usual lengthening (Ewald, 160, c, Anm. 4). His appearance and his form were altogether distortion (stronger than moshchâth, distorted), away from men, out beyond men, i.e., a distortion that destroys all likeness to a man;

(Note: The church before the time of Constantine pictured to itself the Lord, as He walked on earth, as repulsive in His appearance; whereas the church after Constantine pictured Him as having quite an ideal beauty (see my tract, Jesus and Hillel, 1865, p. 4). They were both right: unattractive in appearance, though not deformed, He no doubt was in the days of His flesh; but He is ideally beautiful in His glorification. The body in which He was born of Mary was no royal form, though faith could see the doxa shining through. It was no royal form, for the suffering of death was the portion of the Lamb of God, even from His mother's womb; but the glorified One is infinitely exalted above all the idea of art.)

'ı̄sh does not signify man as distinguished from woman here, but a human being generally.

The antithesis follows in Isaiah 52:15 : viz., the state of glory in which this form of wretchedness has passed away. As a parallel to the "many" in Isaiah 52:14, we have here "many nations," indicating the excess of the glory by the greater fulness of the expression; and as a parallel to "were astonished at thee," "he shall make to tremble" (yazzeh), in other words, the effect which He produces by what He does to the effect produced by what He suffers. The hiphil hizzâh generally means to spirt or sprinkle (adspergere), and is applied to the sprinkling of the blood with the finger, more especially upon the capporeth and altar of incense on the day of atonement (differing in this respect from zâraq, the swinging of the blood out of a bowl), also to the sprinkling of the water of purification upon a leper with the bunch of hyssop (Leviticus 14:7), and of the ashes of the red heifer upon those defiled through touching a corpse (Numbers 19:18); in fact, generally, to sprinkling for the purpose of expiation and sanctification. And Vitringa, Hengstenberg, and others, accordingly follow the Syriac and Vulgate in adopting the rendering adsperget (he will sprinkle). They have the usage of the language in their favour; and this explanation also commends itself from a reference to נגוּע in Isaiah 53:4, and נגע in Isaiah 53:8 (words which are generally used of leprosy, and on account of which the suffering Messiah is called in b. Sanhedrin 98b by an emblematical name adopted from the old synagogue, "the leper of Rabbi's school"), since it yields the significant antithesis, that he who was himself regarded as unclean, even as a second Job, would sprinkle and sanctify whole nations, and thus abolish the wall of partition between Israel and the heathen, and gather together into one holy church with Israel those who had hitherto been pronounced "unclean" (Isaiah 52:1). But, on the other hand, this explanation has so far the usage of the language against it, that hizzâh is never construed with the accusative of the person or thing sprinkled (like adspergere aliqua re aliquem; since 'eth in Leviticus 4:6, Leviticus 4:17 is a preposition like ‛al, ‛el elsewhere); moreover, there would be something very abrupt in this sudden representation of the servant as a priest. Such explanations as "he will scatter asunder" (disperget, Targum, etc.), or "he will spill" (sc., their blood), are altogether out of the question; such thoughts as these would be quite out of place in a spiritual picture of salvation and glory, painted upon the dark ground we have here. The verb nâzâh signified primarily to leap or spring; hence hizzâh, with the causative meaning to sprinkle. The kal combines the intransitive and transitive meanings of the word "spirt," and is used in the former sense in Isaiah 63:3, to signify the springing up or sprouting up of any liquid scattered about in drops. The Arabic nazâ (see Ges. Thes.) shows that this verb may also be applied to the springing or leaping of living beings, caused by excess of emotion. And accordingly we follow the majority of the commentators in adopting the rendering exsilire faciet. The fact that whole nations are the object, and not merely individuals, proves nothing to the contrary, as Habakkuk 3:6 clearly shows. The reference is to their leaping up in amazement (lxx θαυμάσονται); and the verb denotes less an external than an internal movement. They will tremble with astonishment within themselves (cf., pâchădū verâgezū in Jeremiah 33:9), being electrified, as it were, by the surprising change that has taken place in the servant of Jehovah. The reason why kings "shut their mouths at him" is expressly stated, viz., what was never related they see, and what was never heard of they perceive; i.e., it was something going far beyond all that had ever been reported to them outside the world of nations, or come to their knowledge within it. Hitzig's explanation, that they do not trust themselves to begin to speak before him or along with him, gives too feeble a sense, and would lead us rather to expect לפניו than עליו. The shutting of the mouth is the involuntary effect of the overpowering impression, or the manifestation of their extreme amazement at one so suddenly brought out of the depths, and lifted up to so great a height. The strongest emotion is that which remains shut up within ourselves, because, from its very intensity, it throws the whole nature into a suffering state, and drowns all reflection in emotion (cf., yachărı̄sh in Zephaniah 3:17). The parallel in Isaiah 49:7 is not opposed to this; the speechless astonishment, at what is unheard and inconceivable, changes into adoring homage, as soon as they have become to some extent familiar with it. The first turn in the prophecy closes here: The servant of Jehovah, whose inhuman sufferings excite such astonishment, is exalted on high; so that from utter amazement the nations tremble, and their kings are struck dumb.

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