Isaiah 53:9
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
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(9) And he made his grave . . .—Literally, one (or, they) assigned him a grave . . . The words are often interpreted as fulfilled in our Lord’s crucifixion between the two robbers and his burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. It has to be noted, however, (1) that this requires an inversion of the clauses; (2) that it introduces a feature scarcely in harmony with the general drift of the description; (3) that the laws of parallelism require us to take the “rich” of one clause as corresponding to the “wicked” of the other, i.e., as in the sense of the wrongfully rich, the oppressors, as in Psalm 49:6; Psalm 49:16; Psalm 73:3-5. Men assigned to the Servant not the burial of a saint, with reverence and honour (such, e.g., as that of Stephen, Acts 8:2), but that of an unjust oppressor, for whom no man lamented, saying, “Ah lord! Ah my brother! Ah his glory!” (Jeremiah 22:18), and this although (not “because”) he had done no violence to deserve it. (Comp. Job 16:17.) The rendering “because” has been adopted as giving a reason for the honourable burial which, it has been assumed, the words imply. It may be questioned, however, when we remember Isaiah’s words as to Shebna (Isaiah 22:16), whether he would have looked on such a burial as that recorded in the Gospels, clandestine, and with no public lamentation, as an adequate recognition of the holiness of the victim. The point of the last two clauses is that they declare emphatically the absolute rectitude of the sufferer in act, his absolute veracity in speech.

Isaiah 53:9. And he made his grave with the wicked — And although he did not die for his own sins, but only for those of mankind, yet he was willing to die like a malefactor, or like a sinner, as all other men are, and to be put into a grave as they use to be; which was a further degree of his humiliation. He saith, he made his grave, because this was Christ’s own act, and he willingly yielded up himself to death and burial. And that which follows, with the wicked, does not denote the sameness of place, as if he should be buried in the same grave with other malefactors, but the sameness of condition. But the words may be rendered, A grave was appointed for him with the wicked; but he was with the rich at his death. Or, as Bishop Lowth reads it, His grave was appointed with the wicked; but with the rich man was his tomb. See his notes. “As our Lord was crucified between two thieves, it was doubtless intended he should be buried with them. ‘Thus his grave was appointed with the wicked;’ but Joseph of Arimathea came and asked for his body, and Pilate, convinced that he had committed no crime, readily granted Joseph’s request. Thus ‘he was with the rich at his death,’ that is, till his resurrection: and this took place contrary to the intention of his enemies, because he had done no violence, &c., for otherwise Joseph would scarcely have requested Pilate, and probably Pilate would not have consented, to deliver up the body of a crucified malefactor.” — Scott. But this latter clause may be connected with the following verse, and rendered, Although he had done no violence, &c., yet it pleased the Lord, &c. In this light it is considered by Bishop Lowth and many others.

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.And he made his grave with the wicked - Jerome renders this, Et dabit impios pro sepultura et divitem pro morte sua. The Septuagint renders it, 'I will give the wicked instead of his burial (ἀντὶ τῆς ταφῆς anti tēs taphēs), and the rich in the place, or instead of his death' (ἀντὶ τοῦ θανάτου anti tou thanatou). The Chaldee renders it, 'He will deliver the wicked into Gehenna, and the rich in substance who oppress, by a death that is destructive, that the workers of iniquity may no more be established, and that they may no more speak deceit in their mouth.' The Syriac renders it beautifully, 'the wicked gave a grave.' Hengstenberg renders it, 'They appointed him his grave with the wicked (but he was with a rich man after his death); although he had done nothing unrighteous, and there was no guile in his mouth.' The sense, according to him, is, that not satisfied with his sufferings and death, they sought to insult him even in death, since they wished to bury his corpse among criminals. It is then incidentally remarked, that this object was not accomplished. This whole verse is exceedingly important; and every word in it deserves a serious examination, and attentive consideration. It has been subjected to the closest investigation by critics, and different interpretations have been given to it. They may be seen at length in Rosenmuller, Gesenius, and Hengstenberg. The word rendered 'he made' (נויתן vayitēn, from נתן nâthan) is a word of very frequent occurrence in the Scriptures. According to Gesenius, it means:

1. To give, as:

(a) to give the hand to a victor;

(b) to give into the hand of anyone, that is, the power;

(c) to give, that is, to turn the back;

(d) to give, that is, to yield fruit as a tree;

(e) to give, that is, to show compassion:

(f) to give honor, praise, etc.:

(g) to give into prison, or into custody.

2. To sit, place, put, lay;

(a) to set before anyone;

(b) to set one over any person or thing;

(c) to give one's heart to anything; that is, to apply the mind, etc.

3. To make;


9. Rather, "His grave was appointed," or "they appointed Him His grave" [Hengstenberg]; that is, they intended (by crucifying Him with two thieves, Mt 27:38) that He should have His grave "with the wicked." Compare Joh 19:31, the denial of honorable burial being accounted a great ignominy (see on [854]Isa 14:19; Jer 26:23).

and with … rich—rather, "but He was with a rich man," &c. Gesenius, for the parallelism to "the wicked," translates "ungodly" (the effect of riches being to make one ungodly); but the Hebrew everywhere means "rich," never by itself ungodly; the parallelism, too, is one of contrast; namely, between their design and the fact, as it was ordered by God (Mt 27:57; Mr 15:43-46; Joh 19:39, 40); two rich men honored Him at His death, Joseph of Arimathæa, and Nicodemus.

in his death—Hebrew, "deaths." Lowth translates, "His tomb"; bamoth, from a different root, meaning "high places," and so mounds for sepulture (Eze 43:7). But all the versions oppose this, and the Hebrew hardly admits it. Rather translate, "after His death" [Hengstenberg]; as we say, "at His death." The plural, "deaths," intensifies the force; as Adam by sin "dying died" (Ge 2:17, Margin); that is, incurred death, physical and spiritual. So Messiah, His substitute, endured death in both senses; spiritual, during His temporary abandonment by the Father; physical, when He gave up the ghost.

because—rather, as the sense demands (so in Job 16:17), "although He had done no," &c. [Hengstenberg], (1Pe 2:20-22; 1Jo 3:5).

violence—that is, wrong.

He made his grave with the wicked; and although he did not die for his own, but only for his people’s sins, yet he was willing to die like a malefactor, or like a sinner, as all other men are, and to be put into the grave, as they used to be; which was a further degree of his humiliation. He saith, he made his grave, because this was Christ’s own act, and he willingly yielded up himself to death and burial. And that which follows, with the wicked, doth not note the sameness of place, as if he should be buried in the same grave with ether malefactors, but the sameness of condition; as when David prayeth, Psalm 26:9, Gather not my soul (to wit, by death) with sinners, he doth not mean it of the same grave, but of the same state of the dead.

With the rich in his death: this passage is thought by many to signify that Christ should be buried in the sepulchre of Joseph, who is said to be both rich, Matthew 27:57, and honourable, Mark 15:43, which they conceive to be intimated as a token of favour and honour showed to him; which to me seems not probable, partly because this disagrees with the former clause, which confessedly speaks of the dishonour which was done to him; and partly because the burial of Christ, whatsoever circumstances it was attended with, is ever mentioned in Scripture as a part of his humiliation, Ac 2 24,27. And it seems more reasonable, and more agreeable to the usage of the Holy Scripture, that this clause should design the same thing with the former, and that by rich he means the same persons whom he now called wicked, not as if all rich men were or must needs be wicked, but because for the most part they are so; upon which ground riches and rich men do commonly pass under an ill name in Scripture; of which see Psalm 37:10 49:6 Luke 6:24 18:24 Jam 1:11 5:1.

In his death, Heb. in or at (or after, as this particle is frequently taken, as hath been already noted) his deaths; for Christ’s death might well be called deaths, in the plural number, because he underwent many kinds of death, and many deadly dangers and pains, which are frequently called by the name of death in Scripture, of which instances have been formerly given; and he might say, with no less truth than Paul did, 1 Corinthians 15:31, I die daily, and 2 Corinthians 11:23. I was in deaths oft. Because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth: this some suppose to be added as a reason of the last branch of the foregoing clause, why God so overruled matters by his providence, that Christ should not be buried in the same grave, or in the same ignominious manner, as malefactors were, but in a more honourable manner, in Joseph’s own tomb. But the last part of the foregoing clause cannot, without violence, be pulled asunder from the former, wherewith it is so closely joined, not only by a conjunction copulative, and, but also by being under the government of the same verb; and therefore this latter clause of the verse, if thus rendered, must be added as the reason of what is said to be done in the former. And so the sense of the place may be thus conceived, This was all the reward of the unspotted innocency of all his words and actions, to be thus ignominiously used. But these words may well be and are otherwise rendered, both by Jewish and Christian interpreters, either thus, although he had done, &c., or rather thus, not for (as these two same particles placed in the very same order are rendered by our translator, and others, Job 16:17) any violence (or injury, or iniquity) which he had done, nor for any deceit which was in his mouth; not for his own sins, but, as hath been said before, for his people’s sins; in which translation there is nothing supplied but what is most frequent in Scripture also.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,.... These words are generally supposed to refer to a fact that was afterwards done; that Christ, who died with wicked men, as if he himself had been one, was buried in a rich man's grave. Could the words admit of the following transposition, they would exactly agree with it, "and he made his grave with the rich; and with the wicked in his death"; for he died between two thieves, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathaea, a rich man. Or the meaning perhaps in general is, that, after his death, both rich men and wicked men were concerned in his sepulchre, and about his grave; two rich men, Nicodemus and Joseph, in taking down his body from the cross, in embalming it, and in laying it in the tomb of the latter; and wicked men, Roman soldiers, were employed in guarding the sepulchre, that his disciples might not take away the body. Or the sense is, "he" the people, the nation of the Jews, through whose enmity against him he suffered death, "gave", intended, and designed, that "his grave" should be with "the wicked"; and therefore accused him to the Roman governor, and got him condemned capitally, and condemned to a Roman death, crucifixion, that he might be buried where such sort of persons usually were; and then it may be supplied, "but he made it"; that is, God ordered and appointed, in his overruling providence, that it should be "with the rich in his death", as it was. Aben Ezra observes, that the word which we translate "in his death", signifies a structure over a grave, "a sepulchral monument"; and then it may be rendered impersonally thus, "his grave was put or placed with the wicked, but his tomb", or sepulchral monument, was "with the rich"; his grave was indeed put under the care and custody of the wicked soldiers; yet a famous tomb being erected over it, at the expense of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathaea, which was designed for himself, made the burial of Christ honourable: which honour was done him,

because he had done no violence: or injury to any man's person or property; had not been guilty of rapine and oppression, theft and robbery; murder and cruelty; he had not been a stirrer up of sedition, an encourager of mobs, riots, and tumults, to the harm of the civil government:

neither was any deceit in his mouth: no false doctrine was delivered by him; he was no deceiver of the people, as he was charged; he did not attempt to seduce them from the true worship of God, or persuade them to believe anything contrary to the law of Moses, and the prophets; he was no enemy to church or state, nor indeed guilty of any manner of sin, nor given to any arts of trick and dissimulation; see 1 Peter 2:22. Some render the words, "though" (y) "he had done no violence", &c. and connect them with the following.

(y) "quamvis", Vatablus, Calvin, Noldius; "licet", Syr. Interpr.

{n} And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

(n) God the Father delivered him into the hands of the wicked, and to the powers of the world to do with him what they would.

9. The unrelenting antipathy which the Servant experienced through life is continued even after his death, and expresses itself in the manner of his burial.

And they (R.V.) made his grave with the wicked] The subject is indefinite, the construction being equivalent to a passive: “And his grave was made” &c. “With the wicked” need not imply that a special burial-ground was set apart for them as a class, but only that such persons were buried ignominiously and away from the family sepulchre, like Absalom (2 Samuel 18:17). From Jeremiah 26:23 (cf. 2 Kings 23:6) it appears that it was a disgrace to be buried among the “common people.” In this case the “wicked” probably means the notoriously wicked, criminals, apostates, and such like. With these the Servant was numbered because his calamities had seemed to mark him out as a heinous sinner in the sight of God.

and with the rich in his death] This clause must express the same idea as the preceding. To take the two antithetically: “they meant his grave to be with the wicked, but he was with the rich in his death” (Delitzsch) is utterly unwarrantable. It is, no doubt, somewhat difficult to justify this sense of “rich” as synonymous with “wicked” from O.T. usage, although it might perhaps be suggested by the common identification of poverty with piety. This explanation, however, is not quite satisfactory, and several emendations have been proposed, such as “the oppressor” (עָשׁוֹקִ for עָשִׁיר), “the defrauder” (עָשִׁיק, Aramaic), “evil-doers” (עֹשֵׂי רַע).

in his death] lit. “in his deaths.” The use of the plural is variously explained. Some find in it an intimation of the collective character of the subject spoken of under the name of the Servant; but even if the Servant be a collective idea, it is inconceivable that the writer should have here abandoned the personification which he has so strictly maintained throughout. Nor is it any relief to say that it means “in his state of death.” It is better to read the singular with the LXX. There is, however, another reading found in a few MSS. and adopted by many commentators, according to which the clause would form a perfect parallelism with the first line:

“And with the rich (or oppressor, &c.) his sepulchral mound.” But the word bâmâh (= high-place) is not elsewhere used in this sense.

because he had done no violence &c.] Render with R.V. although (“in spite of the fact that”) &c. as in Job 16:17. With this assertion of his innocence the narrative of the Servant’s career reaches its conclusion. While absolute sinlessness is not explicitly predicated of him, but only freedom from “violence” and “deceit,” yet the image of the lamb led to the slaughter, and his patient resignation to the will of God, strongly suggest that the prophet had in his mind the conception of a perfectly sinless character.

Verse 9. - And he made his grave with the wicked; rather, they assigned him his grave with the wicked. The verb is used impersonally. Those who condemned Christ to be crucified with two malefactors on the common execution-ground - "the place of a skull" - meant his grave to be "with the wicked," with whom it would naturally have been but for the interference of Joseph of Arimathaea. Crucified persons were buried with their crosses near the scene of their crucifixion by the Romans. And with the rich in his death; or, and (he was) with a rich one after his death. In the preceding clause, the word translated "the wicked" is plural, but in the present, the word translated "the rich" is singular. The expression translated "in his death" means "when he was dead," "after death" (comp. 1 Kings 13:31; Psalm 6:5). The words have a singularly exact fulfilment in the interment of our Lord (Matthew 27:57-60). Because. The preposition used may mean either "because" or "although." The ambiguity is, perhaps, intentional. He had done no violence; or, no wrong (see Genesis 16:5; 1 Chronicles 12:17; Job 19:7; Psalm 35:11 (margin); Proverbs 26:6). The LXX. give ἀνομία while St. Peter renders the word used by ἀμαρτία (1 Peter 2:22). The sinlessness of Christ is asserted by himself (John 8:46), and forms the main argument in the Epistle to the Hebrews for the superiority of the new covenant over the old (Hebrews 7:26-28; Hebrews 9:14). It is also witnessed to by St. Peter (1 Peter 2:22), by St. Paul (2 Corinthians 5:21), and by St. John (1 John 3:5). As no other man was ever without sin, it follows that the Servant of the present chapter must be Jesus. Isaiah 53:9After this description in Isaiah 53:7 of the patience with which He suffered, and in Isaiah 53:8 of the manner in which He died, there follows a retrospective glance at His burial. "And they assigned Him His grave with sinners, and with a rich man in His martyrdom, because He had done no wrong, and there was no deceit in His mouth." The subject to ויּתּן (assigned) is not Jehovah, although this would not be impossible, since נגע has Jehovah as the latent subject; but it would be irreconcilable with Isaiah 53:10, where Jehovah is introduced as the subject with antithetical prominence. It would be better to assume that "my people" is the subject; but as this would make it appear as if the statement introduced in Isaiah 53:8 with kı̄ (for) were continued here, we seem compelled to refer it to dōrō (His generation), which occurs in the principal clause. No objection could be offered to our regarding "His own generation" as the subject; but dōrō is somewhat too far removed for this; and if the prophet had had the contemporaries of the sufferer in his mind, he would most likely have used a plural verb (vayyittenū). Some, therefore, supply a personal subject of the most general kind to yittēn (which occurs even with a neuter subject, like the German es gibt, Fr. il y a, Eng. "there is;" cf., Proverbs 13:10): "they (on) gave;" and looking at the history of the fulfilment, we confess that this is the rendering we prefer. In fact, without the commentary supplied by the fulfilment, it would be impossible to understand Isaiah 53:9 at all. The earlier translators did great violence to the text, and yet failed to bring out any admissible thought. And the explanation which is most generally adopted now, viz., that עשׁיר is the synonymous parallel to רשׁעי (as even Luther rendered it, "and died like a rich man," with the marginal gloss, "a rich man who sets all his heart upon riches, i.e., a wicked man"), is also untenable; for even granting that ‛âshīr could be proved by examples to be sometimes used as synonymous with רשׁע, as עני and אביון are as synonyms of צדּיק, this would be just the passage in which it would be least possible to sustain any such use of the word; since he who finds his grave with rich men, whether with the godly or the ungodly, would thereby have received a decent, and even honourable burial. This is so thoroughly sustained by experience, as to need no confirmation from such passages as Job 21:32. Hitzig has very good ground, therefore, for opposing this "synonymous" explanation; but when he adopts the rendering lapsator, after the Arabic ‛tūr, this is quite as much in opposition to Arabic usage (according to which this word merely signifies a person who falls into error, and makes a mistake in speaking), as it is to the Hebrew. Ewald changes עשׁיר into עשּׁהיק (a word which has no existence); and Bttcher alters it into רע עשׂי, which is comparatively the best suggestion of all. Hofmann connects the two words בּמותיו עשׁיר, "men who have become rich through the murders that they have treacherously caused" (though without being able to adduce any proof that mōth is ever applied to the death which one person inflicts upon another). At any rate, all these attempts spring from the indisputable assumption, that to be rich is not in itself a sin which deserves a dishonourable burial, to say nothing of its receiving one.

If, therefore, רשׁיעם and עשׁיר are not kindred ideas, they must be antithetical; but it is no easier to establish a purely ethical antithesis than an ethical coincidence. If, however, we take the word רשׁעים as suggesting the idea of persons found guilty, or criminals (an explanation which the juridical context of the passage well sustains; see at Isaiah 50:9), we get a contrast which our own usage of speech also draws between a rich man who is living in the enjoyment of his own possessions, and a delinquent who has become impoverished to the utmost, through hatred, condemnation, ruin. And if we reflect that the Jewish rulers would have given to Jesus the same dishonourable burial as to the two thieves, but that the Roman authorities handed over the body to Joseph the Arimathaean, a "rich man" (Matthew 27:57), who placed it in the sepulchre in his own garden, we see an agreement at once between the gospel history and the prophetic words, which could only be the work of the God of both the prophecy and its fulfilment, inasmuch as no suspicion could possibly arise of there having been any human design of bringing the former into conformity with the latter. But if it be objected, that according to the parallel the ‛âshı̄r must be regarded as dead, quite as much as the reshâ‛ı̄m, we admit the force of this objection, and should explain it in this way: "They assigned Him His grave with criminals, and after He had actually died a martyr's death, with a rich man;" i.e., He was to have lain where the bodies of criminals lie, but He was really laid in a grave that was intended for the corpse of a rich man.

(Note: A clairvoyant once said of the Lord: "Died like a criminal; buried like a prince of the earth" (vid., Psychol. pp. 262, 364).)

The rendering adopted by Vitringa and others, "and He was with a rich man in his death," is open to this objection, that such a clause, to be quite free from ambiguity, would require במויתו הוּא ואת־עשׁיר. Hengstenberg and Stier very properly refer both ויתן and קברו, which must be repeated in thought, to the second clause as well as the first. The rendering tumulum ejus must be rejected, since bâmâh never has this meaning; and בּמתיו, which is the pointing sustained by three Codd., would not be mausolea, but a lofty burial-hill, after the fashion of the Hnengrber (certain "giants' graves," or barrows, in Holstein and Saxony).

(Note: The usage of the language shows clearly that bâmâh had originally the meaning of "height" (e.g., 2 Samuel 1:19). The primary meaning suggested by Bttcher, of locus clausus, septus (from בום equals מהב, Arab. bhm), cannot be sustained. We still hold that בם is the expanded בא, and במה an ascent, steep place, or stair. In the Talmud, bâmâh is equivalent to βωμός, an altar, and בּימה (Syr. bim) equivalent to the βῆμα of the orator and judge; βωμός, root βα, like the Hebrew bâmâh, signifies literally an elevation, and actually occurs in the sense of a sepulchral hill, which this never has, not even in Ezekiel 43:7.)

מותי is a plur. exaggerativus here, as in Ezekiel 28:10 (compare memōthē in Ezekiel 28:8 and Jeremiah 16:4); it is applied to a violent death, the very pain of which makes it like dying again and again. The first clause states with whom they at first assigned Him His grave; the second with whom it was assigned Him, after He had really died a painful death. "Of course," as F. Philippi observes, "this was not a thorough compensation for the ignominy of having died the death of a criminal; but the honourable burial, granted to one who had been ignominiously put to death, showed that there must be something very remarkable about Him. It was the beginning of the glorification which commenced with His death." If we have correctly interpreted the second clause, there can be no doubt in our minds, since we cannot shake the word of God like a kaleidoscope, and multiply the sensus complex, as Stier does, that לא על ( equals לא על־אשׁר) does not mean "notwithstanding that not," as in Job 16:17, but "because not," like על־בּלי in Genesis 31:20. The reason why the Servant of God received such honourable treatment immediately after His ignominious martyrdom, was to be found in His freedom from sin, in the fact that He had done no wrong, and there was no deceit in His mouth (lxx and 1 Peter 2:22, where the clause is correctly rendered οὐδὲ εὑρέθη δόλος ἐν τῶ στόματι αὐτοῦ). His actions were invariably prompted by pure love, and His speech consisted of unclouded sincerity and truth.

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