Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?But, says the second turn in Isaiah 53:1-3, the man of sorrows was despised among us, and the prophecy as to his future was not believed. We hear the first lamentation (the question is, From whose mouth does it come?) in Isaiah 53:1 : "Who hath believed our preaching; and the arm of Jehovah, over whom has it been revealed?" "I was formerly mistaken," says Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, ii. 1, 159, 160), "as to the connection between Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 52:13-15, and thought that the Gentiles were the speakers in the former, simply because it was to them that the latter referred. But I see now that I was in error. It is affirmed of the heathen, that they have never heard before the things which they now see with their eyes. Consequently it cannot be they who exclaim, or in whose name the inquiry is made, Who hath believed our preaching?" Moreover, it cannot be they, both because the redemption itself and the exaltation of the Mediator of the redemption are made known to them from the midst of Israel as already accomplished facts, and also because according to Isaiah 52:15 (cf., Isaiah 49:7; Isaiah 42:4; Isaiah 51:5) they hear the things unheard of before, with amazement which passes into reverent awe, as the satisfaction of their own desires, in other words, with the glad obedience of faith. And we may also add, that the expression in Isaiah 53:8, "for the transgression of my people," would be quite out of place in the mouths of Gentiles, and that, as a general rule, words attributed to Gentiles ought to be expressly introduced as theirs. Whenever we find a "we" introduced abruptly in the midst of a prophecy, it is always Israel that speaks, including the prophet himself (Isaiah 42:24; Isaiah 64:5; Isaiah 16:6; Isaiah 24:16, etc.). Hofmann therefore very properly rejects the view advocated by many, from Calvin down to Stier and Oehler, who suppose that it is the prophet himself who is speaking here in connection with the other heralds of salvation; "for," as he says, "how does all the rest which is expressed in the 1st pers. plural tally with such a supposition?" If it is really Israel, which confesses in Isaiah 53:2. how blind it has been to the calling of the servant of Jehovah, which was formerly hidden in humiliation but is now manifested in glory; the mournful inquiry in Isaiah 53:1 must also proceed from the mouth of Israel. The references to this passage in John 12:37-38, and Romans 10:16, do not compel us to assign Isaiah 53:1 to the prophet and his comrades in office. It is Israel that speaks even in Isaiah 53:1. The nation, which acknowledges with penitence how shamefully it has mistaken its own Saviour, laments that it has put no faith in the tidings of the lofty and glorious calling of the servant of God. We need not assume, therefore, that there is any change of subject in Isaiah 53:2; and (what is still more decisive) it is necessary that we should not, if we would keep up any close connection between Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 52:15. The heathen receive with faith tidings of things which had never been heard of before; whereas Israel has to lament that it put no faith in the tidings which it had heard long, long before, not only with reference to the person and work of the servant of God, but with regard to his lowly origin and glorious end. שמוּעה (a noun after the form ישׁוּעה, שׁבוּעה, a different form from that of גּדלּה, which is derived from the adjective גדל) signifies the hearsay (ἀκοή), i.e., the tidings, more especially the prophetic announcement in Isaiah 28:9; and שׁמעתנוּ, according to the primary subjective force of the suffix, is equivalent to שמענוּ אשר שמוּעה (cf., Jeremiah 49:14), i.e., the hearsay which we have heard. There were some, indeed, who did not refuse to believe the tidings which Israel heard: ἀλλ ̓ οὖ πάντες ὑπήκουσαν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ (Romans 10:16); the number of the believers was vanishingly small, when compared with the unbelieving mass of the nation. And it is the latter, or rather its remnant which had eventually come to its senses, that here inquires, Who hath believed our preaching, i.e., the preaching that was common among us? The substance of the preaching, which had not been believed, was the exaltation of the servant of God from a state of deep degradation. This is a work performed by the "arm of Jehovah," namely, His holy arm that has been made bare, and that now effects the salvation of His people, and of the nations generally, according to His own counsel (Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 51:5). This arm works down from on high, exalted far above all created things; men have it above them, and it is made manifest to those who recognise it in what is passing around them. Who, asks Israel, has had any faith in the coming exaltation of the servant of God? who has recognised the omnipotence of Jehovah, which has set itself to effect his exaltation? All that follows is the confession of the Israel of the last times, to which this question is the introduction. We must not overlook the fact that this golden "passional" is also one of the greatest prophecies of the future conversion of the nation, which has rejected the servant of God, and allowed the Gentiles to be the first to recognise him. At last, though very late, it will feel remorse. And when this shall once take place, then and not till then will this chapter - which, to use an old epithet, will ever be carnificina Rabbinorum - receive its complete historical fulfilment.
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.The confession, which follows, grows out of the great lamentation depicted by Zechariah in Zechariah 12:11. "And he sprang up like a layer-shoot before Him, and like a root-sprout out of dry ground: he had no form, and no beauty; and we looked, and there was no look, such that we could have found pleasure in him." Isaiah 53:2, as a sequel to Isaiah 53:1, looks back to the past, and describes how the arm of Jehovah manifested itself in the servant's course of life from the very beginning, though imperceptibly at first, and unobserved by those who merely noticed the outside. The suffix of לפניו cannot refer to the subject of the interrogative sentence, as Hahn and Hofmann suppose, for the answer to the quis there is nemo; it relates to Jehovah, by which it is immediately preceded. Before Jehovah, namely, so that He, whose counsel thus began to be fulfilled, fixed His eye upon him with watchfulness and protecting care, he grew up כּיּונק, like the suckling, i.e., (in a horticultural sense) the tender twig which sucks up its nourishment from the root and stem (not as Hitzig supposes, according to Ezekiel 31:16, from the moisture in the soil); for the tender twig upon a tree, or trunk, or stalk, is called ינקת (for which we have יונק here): vid., Ezekiel 17:22, the twig of a cedar; Psalm 80:12 (11), of a vine; Job 8:16, of a liana. It is thought of here as a layer, as in Ezekiel 17:22; and, indeed, as the second figure shows when taken in connection with Isaiah 11:1, as having been laid down after the proud cedar of the Davidic monarchy from which it sprang had been felled; for elsewhere it is compared to a shoot which springs from the root left in the ground after the tree has been felled. Both figures depict the lowly and unattractive character of the small though vigorous beginning. The expression "out of dry ground," which belongs to both figures, brings out, in addition, the miserable character of the external circumstances in the midst of which the birth and growth of the servant had taken place. The "dry ground" is the existing state of the enslaved and degraded nation; i.e., he was subject to all the conditions inseparable from a nation that had been given up to the power of the world, and was not only enduring all the consequent misery, but was in utter ignorance as to its cause; in a word, the dry ground is the corrupt character of the age. In what follows, the majority of the commentators have departed from the accents, and adopted the rendering, "he had no form and no beauty, that we should look at Him" (should have looked at Him), viz., with fixed looks that loved to dwell upon Him. This rendering was adopted by Symmachus and Vitringa (ἳνα εἴδωμεν αὐτόν; ut ipsum respiceremus). But Luther, Stier, and others, very properly adhere to the existing punctuation; since the other would lead us to expect בּו ונראה instead of ונראהוּ, and the close reciprocal relation of ולא־מראה ונראהוּ, which resembles a play upon the words, is entirely expunged. The meaning therefore is, "We saw Him, and there was nothing in His appearance to make us desire Him, or feel attracted by Him." The literal rendering of the Hebrew, with its lively method of transferring you into the precise situation, is ut concupisceremus eum (delectaremur eo); whereas, in our oriental style, we should rather have written ut concupivissemus, using the pluperfect instead of the imperfect, or the tense of the associated past. Even in this sense ונראהוּ is very far from being unmeaning: He dwelt in Israel, so that they had Him bodily before their eyes, but in His outward appearance there was nothing to attract or delight the senses.
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.On the contrary, the impression produced by His appearance was rather repulsive, and, to those who measured the great and noble by a merely worldly standard, contemptible. "He was despised and forsaken by men; a man of griefs, and well acquainted with disease; and like one from whom men hide their face: despised, and we esteemed Him not." All these different features are predicates of the erat that is latent in non species ei neque decor and non adspectus. Nibhzeh is introduced again palindromically at the close in Isaiah's peculiar style; consequently Martini's conjecture לא וגו נבזהוּ is to be rejected. This nibhzeh (cf., bâzōh, Isaiah 49:7) is the keynote of the description which looks back in this plaintive tone. The predicate chădal 'ı̄shı̄m is misunderstood by nearly all the commentators, inasmuch as they take אישׁים as synonymous with בני־אדם, whereas it is rather used in the sense of בני־אישׁ (lords), as distinguished from benē 'âdâm, or people generally (see Isaiah 2:9, Isaiah 2:11, Isaiah 2:17). The only other passages in which it occurs are Proverbs 8:4 and Psalm 141:4; and in both instances it signifies persons of rank. Hence Cocceius explains it thus: "wanting in men, i.e., having no respectable men with Him, to support Him with their authority." It might also be understood as meaning the ending one among men, i.e., the one who takes the last place (S. ἐλάχιστος, Jer. novissimus); but in this case He Himself would be described as אישׁ, whereas it is absolutely affirmed that He had not the appearance or distinction of such an one. But the rendering deficiens (wanting) is quite correct; compare Job 19:14, "my kinsfolk have failed" (defecerunt, châdelū, cognati mei). The Arabic chadhalahu or chadhala ‛anhu (also points to the true meaning; and from this we have the derivatives châdhil, refusing assistance, leaving without help; and machdhûl, helpless, forsaken (see Lane's Arabic Lexicon). In Hebrew, châdal has not only the transitive meaning to discontinue or leave off a thing, but the intransitive, to case or be in want, so that chădal 'ı̄shı̄m may mean one in want of men of rank, i.e., finding no sympathy from such men. The chief men of His nation who towered above the multitude, the great men of this world, withdrew their hands from Him, drew back from Him: He had none of the men of any distinction at His side. Moreover, He was מכאבות אישׁ, a man of sorrow of heart in all its forms, i.e., a man whose chief distinction was, that His life was one of constant painful endurance. And He was also חלי ידוּע, that is to say, not one known through His sickness (according to Deuteronomy 1:13, Deuteronomy 1:15), which is hardly sufficient to express the genitive construction; nor an acquaintance of disease (S. γνωστὸς νόσῳ, familiaris morbo), which would be expressed by מידּע or מודע; but scitus morbi, i.e., one who was placed in a state to make the acquaintance of disease. The deponent passive ירוּע, acquainted (like bâtuăch, confisus; zâkbūr, mindful; peritus, pervaded, experienced), is supported by מדּוּע equals מה־יּרוּע; Gr. τί μαθών. The meaning is not, that He had by nature a sickly body, falling out of one disease into another; but that the wrath instigated by sin, and the zeal of self-sacrifice (Psalm 69:10), burnt like the fire of a fever in His soul and body, so that even if He had not died a violent death, He would have succumbed to the force of the powers of destruction that were innate in humanity in consequence of sin, and of His own self-consuming conflict with them. Moreover, He was kemastēr pânı̄m mimmennū. This cannot mean, "like one hiding his face from us," as Hengstenberg supposes (with an allusion to Leviticus 13:45); or, what is comparatively better, "like one causing the hiding of the face from him:" for although the feminine of the participle is written מסתּרת, and in the plural מסתּרים for מסתּירים is quite possible, we never meet with mastēr for mastı̄r, like hastēr for hastı̄r in the infinitive (Isaiah 29:15, cf., Deuteronomy 26:12). Hence mastēr must be a noun (of the form marbēts, marbēq, mashchēth); and the words mean either "like the hiding of the face on our part," or like one who met with this from us, or (what is more natural) like the hiding of the face before his presence (according to Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 54:8; Isaiah 59:2, and many other passages), i.e., like one whose repulsive face it is impossible to endure, so that men turn away their face or cover it with their dress (compare Isaiah 50:6 with Job 30:10). And lastly, all the predicates are summed up in the expressive word nibhzeh: He was despised, and we did not think Him dear and worthy, but rather "esteemed Him not," or rather did not estimate Him at all, or as Luther expresses it, "estimated Him at nothing" (châshabh, to reckon, value, esteem, as in Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 33:8; Malachi 3:16).
The second turn closes here. The preaching concerning His calling and His future was not believed; but the Man of sorrows was greatly despised among us.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.Those who formerly mistook and despised the Servant of Jehovah on account of His miserable condition, now confess that His sufferings were altogether of a different character from what they had supposed. "Verily He hath borne our diseases and our pains: He hath laden them upon Himself; but we regarded Him as one stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted." It might appear doubtful whether אכן (the fuller form of אך) is affirmative here, as in Isaiah 40:7; Isaiah 45:15, or adversative, as in Isaiah 49:4. The latter meaning grows out of the former, inasmuch as it is the opposite which is strongly affirmed. We have rendered it affirmatively (Jer. vere), not adversatively (verum, ut vero), because Isaiah 53:4 itself consists of two antithetical halves - a relation which is expressed in the independent pronouns הוּא and אנחנוּ, that answer to one another. The penitents contrast themselves and their false notion with Him and His real achievement. In Matthew (Matthew 8:17) the words are rendered freely and faithfully thus: αὐτὸς τὰς ἀσθενείας ἡμῶν ἔλαβε καὶ τὰς νόσους ἐβάστασεν. Even the fact that the relief which Jesus afforded to all kinds of bodily diseases is regarded as a fulfilment of what is here affirmed of the Servant of Jehovah, is an exegetical index worth noticing. In Isaiah 53:4 it is not really sin that is spoken of, but the evil which is consequent upon human sin, although not always the direct consequence of the sins of individuals (John 9:3). But in the fact that He was concerned to relieve this evil in all its forms, whenever it came in His way in the exercise of His calling, the relief implied as a consequence in Isaiah 53:4 was brought distinctly into view, though not the bearing and lading that are primarily noticed here. Matthew has very aptly rendered נשׂא by ἔλαβε, and סבל by ἐβάστασε. For whilst סבל denotes the toilsome bearing of a burden that has been taken up, נשׂא combines in itself the ideas of tollere and ferre. When construed with the accusative of the sin, it signifies to take the debt of sin upon one's self, and carry it as one's own, i.e., to look at it and feel it as one's own (e.g., Leviticus 5:1, Leviticus 5:17), or more frequently to bear the punishment occasioned by sin, i.e., to make expiation for it (Leviticus 17:16; Leviticus 20:19-20; Leviticus 24:15), and in any case in which the person bearing it is not himself the guilty person, to bear sin in a mediatorial capacity, for the purpose of making expiation for it (Leviticus 10:17). The lxx render this נשׂא both in the Pentateuch and Ezekiel λαβεῖν ἁμαρτίαν, once ἀναφέρειν; and it is evident that both of these are to be understood in the sense of an expiatory bearing, and not merely of taking away, as has been recently maintained in opposition to the satisfactio vicaria, as we may see clearly enough from Ezekiel 4:4-8, where the עון שׂאת is represented by the prophet in a symbolical action.
But in the case before us, where it is not the sins, but "our diseases" (חלינוּ is a defective plural, as the singular would be written חלינוּ) and "our pains" that are the object, this mediatorial sense remains essentially the same. The meaning is not merely that the Servant of God entered into the fellowship of our sufferings, but that He took upon Himself the sufferings which we had to bear and deserved to bear, and therefore not only took them away (as Matthew 8:17 might make it appear), but bore them in His own person, that He might deliver us from them. But when one person takes upon himself suffering which another would have had to bear, and therefore not only endures it with him, but in his stead, this is called substitution or representation - an idea which, however unintelligible to the understanding, belongs to the actual substance of the common consciousness of man, and the realities of the divine government of the world as brought within the range of our experience, and one which has continued even down to the present time to have much greater vigour in the Jewish nation, where it has found it true expression in sacrifice and the kindred institutions, than in any other, at least so far as its nationality has not been entirely annulled.
(Note: See my Jesus and Hillel, pp. 26, 27.)
Here again it is Israel, which, having been at length better instructed, and now bearing witness against itself, laments its former blindness to the mediatorially vicarious character of the deep agonies, both of soul and body, that were endured by the great Sufferer. They looked upon them as the punishment of His own sins, and indeed - inasmuch as, like the friends of Job, they measured the sin of the Sufferer by the sufferings that He endured - of peculiarly great sins. They saw in Him נגוּע, "one stricken," i.e., afflicted with a hateful, shocking disease (Genesis 12:17; 1 Samuel 6:9) - such, for example, as leprosy, which was called נגע κατ ̓ ἐξ (2 Kings 15:5, A. ἀφήμενον, S. ἐν ἁφῆ ὄντα equals leprosum, Th. μεμαστιγωμένον, cf., μάστιγες, Mark 3:10, scourges, i.e., bad attacks); also אלהים מכּה, "one smitten of God" (from nâkhâh, root נך, נג; see Comm. on Job, at Job 30:8), and מענּה bowed down (by God), i.e., afflicted with sufferings. The name Jehovah would have been out of place here, where the evident intention is to point to the all-determining divine power generally, whose vengeance appeared to have fallen upon this particular sufferer. The construction mukkēh 'Elōhı̄m signifies, like the Arabic muqâtal rabbuh, one who has been defeated in conflict with God his Lord (see Comm. on Job, at Job 15:28); and 'Elōhı̄m has the syntactic position between the two adjectives, which it necessarily must have in order to be logically connected with them both.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.In Isaiah 53:5, והוּא, as contrasted with ואנחנוּ, continues the true state of the case as contrasted with their false judgment. "Whereas He was pierced for our sins, bruised for our iniquities: the punishment was laid upon Him for our peace; and through His stripes we were healed." The question is, whether Isaiah 53:5 describes what He was during His life, or what He was in His death. The words decide in favour of the latter. For although châlâl is applied to a person mortally wounded but not yet dead (Jeremiah 51:52; Psalm 69:27), and châlal to a heart wounded to death (Psalm 109:22); the pure passives used here, which denote a calamity inflicted by violence from without, more especially mechōlâl, which is not the participle polal of chı̄l (made to twist one's self with pain), but the participle poal of châl (pierced, transfossus, the passive of mechōlēl, Isaiah 51:9), and the substantive clauses, which express a fact that has become complete in all its circumstances, can hardly be understood in any other way than as denoting, that "the servant of God" floated before the mind of the speaker in all the sufferings of death, just as was the case with Zechariah in Zechariah 12:10. There were no stronger expressions to be found in the language, to denote a violent and painful death. As min, with the passive, does not answer to the Greek ὑπό, but to ἀπό, the meaning is not that it was our sins and iniquities that had pierced Him through like swords, and crushed Him like heavy burdens, but that He was pierced and crushed on account of our sins and iniquities. It was not His own sins and iniquities, but ours, which He had taken upon Himself, that He might make atonement for them in our stead, that were the cause of His having to suffer so cruel and painful a death.
The ultimate cause is not mentioned; but עליו שׁלומנוּ מוּסר which follows points to it. His suffering was a mūsâr, which is an indirect affirmation that it was God who had inflicted it upon Him, for who else could the yōsēr (meyassēr) be? We have rendered mūsâr "punishment;" and there was no other word in the language for this idea; for though נקם and פּקדּה (to which Hofmann refers) have indeed the idea of punishment associated with them, the former signifies ἐκδίκησις, the latter ἐπίσκεψις, whereas mūsâr not only denotes παιδεία, as the chastisement of love (Proverbs 3:11), but also as the infliction of punishment ( equals τιμωρία κόλασις, Proverbs 7:22; Jeremiah 30:14), just as David, when he prayed that God might not punish him in His anger and hot displeasure (Psalm 6:2), could not find a more suitable expression for punishment, regarded as the execution of judgment, than יסּר (הוכיח). The word itself, which follows the form of mūsâd (Isaiah 28:16), signifies primarily being chastised (from yâsar equals vâsar, constringere, coercere), and included from the very outset the idea of practical chastisement, which then passed over into that of admonition in words, of warning by example, and of chastity as a moral quality. In the case before us, in which the reference is to a sufferer, and to a mūsâr resting upon him, this can only mean actual chastisement. If the expression had been עליו מוּסרנוּ, it would merely mean that God had caused Him, who had taken upon Himself our sins and iniquities and thus made Himself representatively or vicariously guilty, to endure the chastisement which those sins deserved. but it is שׁלומנוּ מוּסר. The connection of the words is the same as that of חיּים תּוכחת in Proverbs 15:31. As the latter signifies "reproof leading to life," so the former signifies "the chastisement which leads to our peace." It is true that the suffix belongs to the one idea, that that has grown up through this combination of the words, like berı̄th shelōmı̄, "my peace-covenant" (Isaiah 54:10); but what else could our "peace-chastisement" be, than the chastisement that brings us peace, or puts us into a state of salvation? This is the idea involved in Stier's rendering, "restoring chastisement," and Hofmann's, "the chastisement wholesome for us." The difference in the exposition simply lies in the view entertained of the mūsâr, in which neither of these commentators will allow that there is any idea of a visitation of justice here. But according to our interpretation, the genitive שׁלומנו, which defines the mūsâr so far as its object and results are concerned, clearly shows that this manifestation of the justice of God, this satisfaction procured by His holiness, had His love for its foundation and end. It was our peace, or, what is more in accordance with the full idea of the word, our general well-being, our blessedness, which these sufferings arrived at and secured (the synonyms of shâlōm are tōbh and yeshū‛âh, Isaiah 52:7). In what follows, "and by His stripes (chăbhūrâh equals chabbūrâh, Isaiah 1:6) we have been healed," shâlōm is defined as a condition of salvation brought about by healing. "Venustissimum ὀξύμωρον," exclaims Vitringa here. He means the same as Jerome when he says, suo vulnere vulnera nostra curavit. The stripes and weals that were inflicted upon Him have made us sound and well (the lxx keeps the collective singular, and renders it very aptly τῷ μώλωπι αὐτοῦ; cf., 1 Peter 2:24). We were sick unto death because of our sins; but He, the sinless one, took upon Himself a suffering unto death, which was, as it were, the concentration and essence of the woes that we had deserved; and this voluntary endurance, this submission to the justice of the Holy One, in accordance with the counsels of divine love, became the source of our healing.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.Thus does the whole body of the restored Israel confess with penitence, that it has so long mistaken Him whom Jehovah, as is now distinctly affirmed, had made a curse for their good, when they had gone astray to their own ruin. "All we like sheep went astray; we had turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." It is the state of exile, upon which the penitent Israel is here looking back; but exile as being, in the prophet's view, the final state of punishment before the final deliverance. Israel in its exile resembled a scattered flock without a shepherd; it had lost the way of Jehovah (Isaiah 63:17), and every one had turned to his own way, in utter selfishness and estrangement from God (Isaiah 56:11). But whereas Israel thus heaped up guilt upon guilt, the Servant of Jehovah was He upon whom Jehovah Himself caused the punishment of their guilt to fall, that He might make atonement for it through His own suffering. Many of the more modern expositors endeavour to set aside the paena vicaria here, by giving to הפגּיע a meaning which it never has. Thus Stier renders it, "Jehovah caused the iniquity of all to strike or break upon Him." Others, again, give a meaning to the statement which is directly at variance with the words themselves. Thus Hahn renders it: Jehovah took the guilt of the whole into His service, causing Him to die a violent death through their crime. Hofmann very properly rejects both explanations, and holds fast to the fact that בּ הפגּיע, regarded as a causative of בּ פּגע, signifies "to cause anything to strike or fall upon a person," which is the rendering adopted by Symmachus: κύριος καταντήσαι ἐποίησεν εἰς αὐτὸν τὴν ἀνομίαν πάντων ἡμῶν. "Just as the blood of a murdered man comes upon the murderer, when the bloody deed committed comes back upon him in the form of blood-guiltiness inflicting vengeance; so does sin come upon, overtake (Psalm 40:13), or meet with the sinner. It went forth from him as his own act; it returns with destructive effect, as a fact by which he is condemned. But in this case God does not suffer those who have sinned to be overtaken by the sin they have committed; but it falls upon His servant, the righteous One." These are Hofmann's words. But if the sin turns back upon the sinner in the shape of punishment, why should the sin of all men, which the Servant of God has taken upon Himself as His own, overtake Him in the form of an evil, which, even it if be a punishment, is not punishment inflicted upon Him? For this is just the characteristic of Hofmann's doctrine of the atonement, that it altogether eliminates from the atoning work the reconciliation of the purposes of love with the demands of righteousness. Now it is indeed perfectly true, that the Servant of God cannot become the object of punishment, either as a servant of God or as an atoning Saviour; for as servant of God He is the beloved of God, and as atoning Saviour He undertakes a work which is well pleasing to God, and ordained in God's eternal counsel. So that the wrath which pours out upon Him is not meant for Him as the righteous One who voluntarily offers up Himself but indirectly it relates to Him, so far as He has vicariously identified Himself with sinners, who are deserving of wrath. How could He have made expiation for sin, if He had simply subjected Himself to its cosmical effects, and not directly subjected Himself to that wrath which is the invariable divine correlative of human sin? And what other reason could there be for God's not rescuing Him from this the bitterest cup of death, than the ethical impossibility of acknowledging the atonement as really made, without having left the representative of the guilty, who had presented Himself to Him as though guilty Himself, to taste of the punishment which they had deserved? It is true that vicarious expiation and paena vicaria are not coincident ideas. The punishment is but one element in the expiation, and it derives a peculiar character from the fact that one innocent person voluntarily submits to it in His own person. It does not stand in a thoroughly external relation of identity to that deserved by the many who are guilty; but the latter cannot be set aside without the atoning individual enduring an intensive equivalent to it, and that in such a manner, that this endurance is no less a self-cancelling of wrath on the part of God, than an absorption of wrath on the part of the Mediator; and in this central point of the atoning work, the voluntarily forgiving love of God and the voluntarily self-sacrificing love of the Mediator meet together, like hands stretched out grasp one another from the midst of a dark cloud. Hermann Schultz also maintains that the suffering, which was the consequence of sin and therefore punishment to the guilty, is borne by the Redeemer as suffering, without being punishment. But in this way the true mystery is wiped out of the heart of the atoning work; and this explanation is also at variance with the expression "the chastisement of our peace" in Isaiah 53:5, and the equally distinct statement in Isaiah 53:6, "He hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." It was the sin of all Israel, as the palindromically repeated kullânū emphatically declares, which pressed upon Him with such force when His atoning work was about to be decided, but עון is used to denote not only the transgression itself, but also the guilt incurred thereby, and the punishment to which it gives rise. All this great multitude of sins, and mass of guilt, and weight of punishment, came upon the Servant of Jehovah according to the appointment of the God of salvation, who is gracious in holiness. The third turn ends here. It was our sins that He bore, and for our salvation that God caused Him to suffer on our account.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.The fourth turn describes how He suffered and died and was buried. "He was ill treated; whilst He suffered willingly, and opened not His mouth, like the sheep that is led to the slaughter-bench, and like a lamb that is dumb before its shearers, and opened not His mouth." The third pers. niphal stands first in a passive sense: He has been hard pressed (1 Samuel 13:6): He is driven, or hunted (1 Samuel 14:24), treated tyrannically and unsparingly; in a word, plagued (vexatus; compare the niphal in a reciprocal sense in Isaiah 3:5, and according to the reading נגשׂ in Isaiah 29:13 in a reflective sense, to torment one's self). Hitzig renders the next clause, "and although tormented, He opened not His mouth." But although an explanatory subordinate clause may precede the principal clause which it more fully explains, not example can be found of such a clause with (a retrospective) והוּא explaining what follows; for in Job 2:8 the circumstantial clause, "sitting down among the ashes," belongs to the principal fact which stands before. And so here, where נענה (from which comes the participle נענה, usually met with in circumstantial clauses) has not a passive, but a reflective meaning, as in Exodus 10:3 : "He was ill treated, whilst He bowed Himself ( equals suffered voluntarily), and opened not His mouth" (the regular leap from the participle to the finite). The voluntary endurance is then explained by the simile "like a sheep that is led to the slaughter" (an attributive clause, like Jeremiah 11:19); and the submissive quiet bearing, by the simile "like a lamb that is dumb before its shearers." The commentators regard נאלמה as a participle; but this would have the tone upon the last syllable (see Isaiah 1:21, Isaiah 1:26; Nahum 3:11; cf., Comm. on Job, at Job 20:27, note). The tone shows it to be the pausal form for נאלרמה, and so we have rendered it; and, indeed, as the interchange of the perfect with the future in the attributive clause must be intentional, not quae obmutescit, but obmutuit. The following words, פּיו יפתּח ולא, do not form part of the simile, which would require tiphtach, for nothing but absolute necessity would warrant us in assuming that it points back beyond רחל to שׂה, as Rashi and others suppose. The palindromical repetition also favours the unity of the subject with that of the previous יפתח and the correctness of the delicate accentuation, with which the rendering in the lxx and Acts 8:32 coincides. All the references in the New Testament to the Lamb of God (with which the corresponding allusions to the passover are interwoven) spring from this passage in the book of Isaiah.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.The description of the closing portion of the life of the Servant of Jehovah is continued in Isaiah 53:8. "He has been taken away from prison and from judgment; and of His generation who considered: 'He was snatched away out of the land of the living; for the wickedness of my people punishment fell upon Him'?" The principal emphasis is not laid upon the fact that He was taken away from suffering, but that it was out of the midst of suffering that He was carried off. The idea that is most prominent in luqqâch (with â in half pause) is not that of being translated (as in the accounts of Enoch and Elijah), but of being snatched or hurried away (abreptus est, Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 33:4, etc.). The parallel is abscissus (cf., nikhrath, Jeremiah 11:19) a terra viventium, for which נגזר by itself is supposed to be used in the sense of carried away (i.e., out of the sphere of the living into that of the dead, Lamentations 3:54; cf., Ezekiel 37:11, "It is all over with us"). עצר (from עצר, compescere) is a violent constraint; here, as in Psalm 107:39, it signifies a persecuting treatment which restrains by outward force, such as that of prison or bonds; and mishpât refers to the judicial proceedings, in which He was put upon His trial, accused and convicted as worthy of death - in other words, to His unjust judgment. The min might indeed be understood, as in Isaiah 53:5, not as referring to the persons who swept Him away ( equals ὑπὸ), but, as in Psalm 107:39, as relating to the ground and cause of the sweeping away. But the local sense, which is the one most naturally suggested by luqqach (e.g., Isaiah 49:24), is to be preferred: hostile oppression and judicial persecution were the circumstances out of which He was carried away by death. With regard to what follows, we must in any case adhere to the ordinary usage, according to which dōr ( equals Arab. daur, dahr, a revolution or period of time) signifies an age, or the men living in a particular age; also, in an ethical sense, the entire body of those who are connected together by similarity of disposition (see, for example, Psalm 14:5); or again ( equals Arab. dâr) a dwelling, as in Isaiah 38:12, and possibly also (of the grave) in Psalm 49:20. Such meanings as length of life (Luther and Grotius), course of life (Vitringa), or fate (Hitzig), it is impossible to sustain. Hence the Sept. rendering, τὴν γενεὰν αὐτοῦ τίς διηγήσεται, which Jerome also adopts, can only mean, so far as the usage of the language is concerned, "who can declare the number of His generation" (i.e., of those inspire by His spirit,or filled with His life); but in this connection such a thought would be premature. Moreover, the generation intended would be called זרעו rather than דורו, as springing from Him.
Still less can we adopt the meaning "dwelling," as Knobel does, who explains the passage thus: "who considers how little the grave becomes Him, which He has received as His dwelling-place." The words do not admit of this explanation. Hofmann formerly explained the passage as meaning, "No one takes His dwelling-place into his mind or mouth, so as even to think of it, or inquire what had become of Him;" but in His Schriftbeweis he has decided in favour of the meaning, His contemporaries, or the men of His generation. It is only with this rendering that we obtain a thought at all suitable to the picture of suffering given here, or to the words which follow (compare Jeremiah 2:31, O ye men of this generation). ואת־דּורו in that case is not the object to ישׂוחח, the real object to which is rather the clause introduced by כּי, but an adverbial accusative, which may serve to give emphatic prominence to the subject, as we may see from Isaiah 57:12; Ezekiel 17:21; Nehemiah 9:34 (Ges 117, Anm.); for את cannot be a preposition, since inter aequales ejus would not be expressed in Hebrew by את־דרור, but by בדורו. The pilel sōchēăch with be signifies in Psalm 143:5 a thoughtful consideration or deliberation, in a word, meditationem alicujus rei (compare the kal with the accusative, Psalm 145:5). The following kı̄ is an explanatory quod: with regard to His contemporaries, who considered that, etc. The words introduced with kı̄ are spoken, as it were, out of the heart of His contemporaries, who ought to have considered, but did not. We may see from עמּי that it is intended to introduce a direct address; and again, if we leave kı̄ untranslated, like ὃτι recitativum (see, for example, Joshua 2:24; compare di, Daniel 2:25), we can understand why the address, which has been carried on thus far in such general terms, assumes all at once an individual form. It cannot be denied, indeed, that we obtain a suitable object for the missing consideration, if we adopt this rendering: "He was torn away (3rd praet.) out of the land of the living, through (min denoting the mediating cause) the wicked conduct of my people (in bringing Him to death), to their own punishment; i.e., none of the men of His age (like mı̄ in Isaiah 53:1, no one equals only a very few) discerned what had befallen them on account of their sin, in ridding themselves of Him by a violent death." Hofmann and V. F. Oehler both adopt this explanation, saying, "Can the prophet have had the person of the Ecce Homo before his eye, without intimating that his people called down judgment upon themselves, by laying violent hands upon the Servant of God?" We cannot, however, decide in favour of this explanation; since the impression produced by this למו נגע עמּי מפּשׁע is, that it is intended to be taken as a rectification of נגוע חשׁבנהו ואנחנו in Isaiah 53:4, to which it stands in a reciprocal relation. This reciprocal relation is brought out more fully, if we regard the force of the min as still continued (ob plagam quae illis debebatur, Seb. Schmid, Kleinert, etc.); though not in the sense of "through the stroke proceeding from them, my people" (Hahn), which would be opposed to the general usage of נגע; or taking למו נגע as a relative clause, populi mei quibus plaga debebatur (Hengstenberg, Hvernick). But the most natural course is to take lâmō as referring to the Servant of God, more especially as our prophet uses lâmō pathetically for lō, as Isaiah 54:15 unquestionably shows (notwithstanding the remonstrance of Stier, who renders the passage, "He was all plague, or smiting, for them"). נגע always signifies suffering as a calamity proceeding from Go (e.g., Exodus 11:1; Psalm 39:11, and in every other passage in which it does not occur in the special sense of leprosy, which also points back, however, to the generic idea of a plague divinely sent); hence Jerome renders it, "for the sin of my people have I smitten Him." The text does not read so; but the smiter is really Jehovah. Men looked upon His Servant as a נגוע; and so He really was, but not in the sense of which men regarded Him as such. Yet, even if they had been mistaken concerning His during His lifetime; now that He no longer dwelt among the living, they ought to see, as they looked back upon His actions and His sufferings, that it was not for His own wickedness, but for that of Israel, viz., to make atonement for it, that such a visitation from God had fallen upon Him (ל as in Isaiah 24:16 and Isaiah 26:16, where the sentence is in the same logical subordination to the previous one as it is here, where Dachselt gives this interpretation, which is logically quite correct: propter praevaricationem populi mei plaga ei contingente).
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.After 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.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.The last turn in the prophecy, which commences here, carries out Isaiah 53:6 still further, and opens up the background of His fate. The gracious counsel of God for our salvation was accomplished thus. "And it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him, to afflict Him with disease; if His soul would pay a trespass-offering, He should see posterity, should live long days, and the purpose of Jehovah should prosper through His hand." החלי cannot possibly be equivalent to החלי, as Hitzig supposes. An article appended to a noun never obliterates the fundamental character of its form (not even in הארץ). Nor does Bttcher's suggestion, that we should read החלי as an accusative of more precise definition, commend itself; for what would the article do in that case? It is the hiphil of חלה, like the Syriac agil from gelo; or rather, as even in Syriac this אגלי is equivalent to אגליא, of חלא, 2 Chronicles 16:12 (cf., תּחלוּאים), like החטי in 2 Kings 13:6 and Jeremiah 32:35, from חטא. דּכּאו is placed under דּכא) ( equals דּכאו with Dag. dirimens) in Gesenius' Lexicon; but this substantive is a needless fiction. דכאו is an inf. piel: conterere eum (Jerome), not καθαρίσαι αὐτόν (lxx from דּכא) equals זכה). According to Micah 6:13 (הכּותך החליתי, I hurt to smite thee, i.e., I smite thee with a painful blow), החלי דכּאו are apparently connected, in the sense of "And it pleased Jehovah to bruise Him painfully." But both logically and syntactically this would require the opposite construction, viz., דכאו החלי. דּכּאו must therefore be an infinitive, depending upon חפץ, according to Job 33:32 ( equals εὐδόκησε; the lxx thoughtlessly renders it βούλεται). The infinitive construction is then changed into the finite; for even החלי is subordinate to חפץ, as in Hosea 5:11 (cf., Isaiah 42:21; Ges. 142, 3); "he would, made ill," being equivalent to "he would make ill," i.e., he would plunge into distress. There is no necessity to repeat דכאו after החלי, in the sense of "he caused sore evil therewith," viz., with the דכאו. It was men who inflicted upon the Servant of God such crushing suffering, such deep sorrow; but the supreme causa efficiens in the whole was God, who made the sin of men subservient to His pleasure, His will, and predetermined counsel. The suffering of His Servant was to be to Him the way to glory, and this way of His through suffering to glory was to lead to the establishment of a church of the redeemed, which would spring from Him; in other words, it would become the commencement of that fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation which He, the ever-living, ever-working One, would carry out to completion. We give up the idea that תּשׂים is to be taken as addressed by Jehovah to "His Servant." The person acting is the Servant, and it is to Jehovah that the action refers. But Hofmann's present view, viz., that tâsı̄m is addressed to the people, is still less admissible. It is the people who are speaking here; and although the confession of the penitent Israel runs on from Isaiah 53:11 (where the confessing retrospective view of the past becomes prospective and prophetic glance at the future) in a direct prophetic tone, and Isaiah 53:10 might form the transition to this; yet, if the people were addressed in this word tâsı̄m, it would be absolutely necessary that it should be distinctly mentioned in this connection. And is it really Israel which makes the soul of the Servant an 'âshâm, and not rather the Servant Himself? No doubt it is true, that if nothing further were stated here than that "the people made the life of the Servant of God an 'âshâm, inasmuch as it treated Him just as if it had a pricking in its conscience so long as it suffered Him to live," - which is a natural sequel in Hofmann's case to his false assumption, that the passion described in Isaiah 53:1-12 was merely the culminating point in the sufferings which the Servant was called to endure as a prophet, whereas the prophet falls into the background here behind the sacrifice and the priest - we should no doubt have one scriptural testimony less to support the satisfactio vicaria.
(Note: In the first edition of Hofmann's Schriftbeweis (i. 2, 137), in which he regarded tâsı̄m as addressed to God, he set aside the orthodox view with the remark, that God Himself makes good the injury that men have done to Him by giving up the life of His Servant. In the second edition (i. 2, 208) he supposes the people to be addressed, and it is therefore the people who make the Servant's life an 'âshâm. The first edition contained the following correct definition of 'âshâm: "In general, it denotes what one person pays to make good an injury done by him to another." The exposition which follows above will show how we are forced to adopt the orthodox view, if we adhere to this definition and regard the Servant Himself as presenting the 'âshâm.)
But if we adopt the following rendering, which is the simplest, and the one least open to exception: if His soul offered (placed, i.e., should have placed; cf., Job 14:14, si mortuus fuerit) an 'âshâm - it is evident that 'âshâm has here a sacrificial meaning, and indeed a very definite one, inasmuch as the 'âshâm (the trespass-offering) was a sacrifice, the character of which was very sharply defined. It is self-evident, however, that the 'âshâm paid by the soul of the Servant must consist in the sacrifice of itself, since He pays it by submitting to a violent death; and a sacrifice presented by the nephesh (the soul, the life, the very self) must be not only one which proceeds from itself, but one which consists in itself. If, then, we would understand the point of view in which the self-sacrifice of the Servant of God is placed when it is called an 'âshâm, we must notice very clearly the characteristic distinction between this kind of sacrifice and every other. Many of the ritual distinctions, however, may be indicated superficially, inasmuch as they have no bearing upon the present subject, where we have to do with an antitypical and personal sacrifice, and not with a typical and animal one. The 'âshâm was a sanctissimum, like that of the sin-offering (Leviticus 6:10, Leviticus 6:17, and Leviticus 14:13), and according to Leviticus 7:7 there was "one law" for them both. This similarity in the treatment was restricted simply to the fact, that the fat portions of the trespass-offering, as well as of the sin-offering, were placed upon the altar, and that the remainder, as in the case of those sin-offerings the blood of which was not taken into the interior of the holy place, was assigned to the priests and to the male members of the priestly families (see Leviticus 6:22; Leviticus 7:6). There were the following points of contrast, however, between these two kinds of sacrifice: (1.) The material of the sin-offerings varied considerably, consisting sometimes of a bullock, sometimes of a pair of doves, and even of meal without oil or incense; whereas the trespass-offering always consisted of a ram, or at any rate of a male sheep. (2.) The choice of the victim, and the course adopted with its blood, was regulated in the case of the sin-offering according to the condition of the offerer; but in the case of the trespass-offering they were neither of them affected by this in the slightest degree. (3.) Sin-offerings were presented by the congregation, and upon holy days, whereas trespass-offerings were only presented by individuals, and never upon holy days. (4.) In connection with the trespass-offering there was none of the smearing of the blood (nethı̄nâh) or of the sprinkling of the blood (hazzâ'âh) connected with the sin-offering, and the pouring out of the blood at the foot of the altar (shephı̄khâh) is never mentioned.The ritual for the blood consisted purely in the swinging out of the blood (zerı̄qâh), as in the case of the whole offering and of the peace-offerings. There is only one instance in which the blood of the trespass-offering is ordered to be smeared, viz., upon certain portions of the body of the leper (Leviticus 14:14), for which the blood of the sin-offering that was to be applied exclusively to the altar could not be used. And in general we find that, in the case of the trespass-offering, instead of the altar-ritual, concerning which the law is very brief (Leviticus 7:1-7), other acts that are altogether peculiar to it are brought prominently into the foreground (Leviticus 5:14.; Numbers 5:5-8). These are all to be accounted for from the fact that a trespass-offering was to be presented by the man who had unintentionally laid hands upon anything holy, e.g., the tithes or first-fruits, or who had broken any commandment of God "in ignorance" (if indeed this is to be taken as the meaning of the expression "and wist it not" in Leviticus 5:17-19); also by the man who had in any way defrauded his neighbour (which was regarded as unfaithfulness towards Jehovah), provided he anticipated it by a voluntary confession - this included the violation of another's conjugal rights in the case of a bondmaid (Leviticus 19:20-22); also by a leper or a Nazarite defiled by contact with a corpse, at the time of their purification, because their uncleanness involved the neglect and interruption of the duties of worship which they were bound to observe. Wherever a material restitution was possible, it was to be made with the addition of a fifth; and in the one case mentioned in Leviticus 19:20-22, the trespass-offerings was admissible even after a judicial punishment had been inflicted. But in every case the guilty person had to present the animal of the trespass-offering "according to thy valuation, O priest, in silver shekels," i.e., according to the priests' taxation, and in holy coin. Such was the prominence given to the person of the priest in the ritual of the trespass-offering. In the sin-offering the priest is always the representative of the offerer; but in the trespass-offering he is generally the representative of God. The trespass-offering was a restitution or compensation made to God in the person of the priest, a payment or penance which made amends for the wrong done, a satisfactio in a disciplinary sense. And this is implied in the name; for just as חטּאת denotes first the sin, then the punishment of the sin and the expiation of the sin, and hence the sacrifice which cancels the sin; so 'âshâm signifies first the guilt or debt, then the compensation or penance, and hence (cf., Leviticus 5:15) the sacrifice which discharges the debt or guilt, and sets the man free.
Every species of sacrifice had its own primary idea. The fundamental idea of the ‛ōlâh (burnt-offering) was oblatio, or the offering of worship; that of the shelâmı̄m (peace-offerings), conciliatio, or the knitting of fellowship that of the minchâh (meat-offering), donatio, or sanctifying consecration; that of the chattâ'th (sin-offering), expiatio, or atonement; that of the 'âshâm (trespass-offering), mulcta (satisfactio), or a compensatory payment. The self-sacrifice of the Servant of Jehovah may be presented under all these points of view. It is the complete antitype, the truth, the object, and the end of all the sacrifices. So far as it is the antitype of the "whole offering," the central point in its antitypical character is to be found in the offering of His entire personality (προσφορὰ τοῦ σώματος, Hebrews 10:10) to God for a sweet smelling savour (Ephesians 5:2); so far as it is the antitype of the sin-offering, in the shedding of His blood (Hebrews 9:13-14), the "blood of sprinkling" (Hebrews 12:24; 1 Peter 1:2); so far as it is the antitype of the shelâmı̄m, and especially of the passover, in the sacramental participation in His one self-sacrifice, which He grants to us in His courts, thus applying to us His own redeeming work, and confirming our fellowship of peace with God (Hebrews 13:10; 1 Corinthians 5:7), since the shelâmı̄m derive their name from shâlōm, pax, communio; so far as it is the antitype of the trespass-offering, in the equivalent rendered to the justice of God for the sacrileges of our sins. The idea of compensatory payment, which Hofmann extends to the whole sacrifice, understanding by kipper the covering of the guilt in the sense of a debt (debitum), is peculiar to the 'âshâm; and at the same time an idea, which Hofmann cannot find in the sacrifices, is expressed here in the most specific manner, viz., that of satisfaction demanded by the justice of God, and of paena outweighing the guilt contracted (cf., nirtsâh, Isaiah 40:2); in other words, the idea of satisfactio vicaria in the sense of Anselm is brought out most distinctly here, where the soul of the Servant of God is said to present such an atoning sacrifice for the whole, that is to say, where He offers Himself as such a sacrifice by laying down the life so highly valued by God (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:5). As the verb most suitable to the idea of the 'âshâm the writer selects the verb sı̄m, which is generally used to denote the giving of a pledge (Job 17:3), and is therefore the most suitable word for every kind of satisfactio that represents a direct solutio. The apodoses to "if His soul shall have paid the penalty (paenam or mulctam)" are expressed in the future, and therefore state what would take place when the former should have been done. He should see posterity (vid., Genesis 50:23; Job 42:16), i.e., should become possessed of a large family of descendants stretching far and wide. The reference here is to the new "seed of Israel," the people redeemed by Him, the church of the redeemed out of Israel and all nations, of which He would lay the foundation. Again, He should live long days, as He says in Revelation 1:18, "I was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore."
(Note: Knobel observes here: "The statement that a person first offers himself as a trespass-offering, and then still lives for a long time, and still continues working, is a very striking one; but it may be explained on the ground that the offerer is a plurality." But how are we to explain the striking expression in our creed, "rose again from the dead?")
Thirdly, the pleasure of Jehovah should prosper "in His hand," i.e., through the service of His mediation, or (according to the primary meaning of tsâlach) should go on advancing incessantly, and pressing on to the final goal. His self-sacrifice, therefore, merely lays the foundation for a progressively self-realizing "pleasure of the Lord," i.e., (cf., Isaiah 44:28) for the realization of the purpose of God according to His determinate counsel, the fuller description of which we had in chapters 42 and 49, where it was stated that He should be the mediator of a new covenant, and the restorer of Israel, the light of the Gentiles and salvation of Jehovah even to the ends of the earth.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.This great work of salvation lies as the great object of His calling in the hand of the deceased and yet eternally living One, and goes on victoriously through His mediation. He now reaps the fruit of His self-sacrifice in a continuous priestly course. "Because of the travail of His soul, He will see, and be refreshed; through His knowledge will He procure justice, my righteous servant, for the many, and will take their iniquities upon Himself." The prophecy now leaves the standpoint of Israel's retrospective acknowledgment of the long rejected Servant of God, and becomes once more the prophetic organ of God Himself, who acknowledges the servant as His own. The min of מעמל might be used here in its primary local signification, "far away from the trouble" (as in Job 21:9, for example); or the temporal meaning which is derived from the local would be also admissible, viz., "from the time of the trouble," i.e., immediately after it (as in Psalm 73:20); but the causal sense is the most natural, viz., on account of, in consequence of (as in Exodus 2:23), which not only separates locally and links together temporarily, but brings into intimate connection. The meaning therefore is, "In consequence of the trouble of His soul (i.e., trouble experienced not only in His body, but into the inmost recesses of His soul), He will see, satisfy Himself." Hitzig supplies בּטּוב (Jeremiah 29:32); Knobel connects בדעתּו, in opposition to the accents (like A. S. Th. ἐμπλησθήσεται ἐν τῇ γνώσει αὐτοῦ), thus: "He looks at His prudent work, and has full satisfaction therewith." But there is nothing to supply, and no necessity to alter the existing punctuation. The second verb receives its colouring from the first; the expression "He will see, will satisfy Himself," being equivalent to "He will enjoy a satisfying or pleasing sight" (cf., Psalm 17:15), which will consist, as Isaiah 53:10 clearly shows, in the successful progress of the divine work of salvation, of which He is the Mediator. בדעתו belongs to יצדּיק as the medium of setting right (cf., Proverbs 11:9). This is connected with ḻ in the sense of "procure justice," like ל רפא (Isaiah 6:10); ל הניח in Isaiah 14:3; Isaiah 28:12 (cf., Daniel 11:33, ל הבין, to procure intelligence; Genesis 45:7, ל החיה, to prolong life - a usage which leads on to the Aramaean combination of the dative with the accusative, e.g., Job 37:18, compare Job 5:2). Tsaddı̄q ‛abhdı̄ do not stand to one another in the relation of a proper name and a noun in apposition, as Hofmann thinks, nor is this expression to be interpreted according to דּוד המּלך (Ges. 113); but "a righteous man, my servant," with the emphatic prominence given to the attribute (cf., Isaiah 10:30; Isaiah 23:12; Psalm 89:51), is equivalent to "my righteous servant.'
But does בדעתו mean per cognitionem sui, or per cognitionem suam? The former gives a sense which is both doctrinally satisfying and practically correct: the Righteous One makes others partakers of righteousness, through their knowledge of Him, His person, and His work, and (as the biblical ידע, which has reference not only to the understanding, but to personal experience also, clearly signifies) through their entrance into living fellowship with Him. Nearly all the commentators, who understand by the servant of God the Divine Redeemer, give the preference to this explanation (e.g., Vitringa, Hengstenberg, and Stier). But the meaning preferred is not always the correct one. The subjective rendering of the suffix (cf., Proverbs 22:17) is favoured by Malachi 2:7, where it is said that "the priest's lips should keep da‛ath (knowledge);" by Daniel 12:3, where faithful teachers are called matsdı̄qē hârabbı̄m (they that turn many to righteousness); and by Isaiah 11:2, according to which "the spirit of knowledge" (rūăch da‛ath) is one of the seven spirits that descend upon the sprout of Jesse; so that "knowledge" (da‛ath) is represented as equally the qualification for the priestly, the prophetic, and the regal calling. It is a very unseemly remark, therefore, on the part of a modern commentator, when he speaks of the subjective knowledge of the Servant as "halting weakly behind in the picture, after His sacrificial death has already been described." We need only recall to mind the words of the Lord in Matthew 11:27, which are not only recorded both by the synoptists and by John, but supported by testimony outside the Gospels also: "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." Let us remember also, that the Servant of Jehovah, whose priestly mediatorial work is unfolded before us here in chapter 53, upon the ground of which He rises to more than regal glory (Isaiah 52:15, compare Isaiah 53:12), is no other than He to whom His God has given the tongue of the learned, "to know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary, i.e., to raise up the wary and heavy laden" (Isaiah 50:4). He knows God, with whom He stands in loving fellowship; He knows the counsels of His love and the will of His grace, in the fulfilment of which His own life ascends, after having gone down into death and come forth from death; and by virtue of this knowledge, which rests upon His own truest and most direct experience, He, the righteous One, will help "the many," i.e., the great mass (hârabbı̄m as in Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:33, Daniel 11:39; Daniel 12:3; cf., Exodus 23:2, where rabbı̄m is used in the same sense without the article), hence all His own nation, and beyond that, all mankind (so far as they were susceptible of salvation equals τοῖς πολλοῖς, Romans 5:19, cf., πολλῶν, Matthew 26:28), to a right state of life and conduct, and one that should be well-pleasing to God. The primary reference is to the righteousness of faith, which is the consequence of justification on the ground of His atoning work, when this is believingly appropriated; but the expression also includes that righteousness of life, which springs by an inward necessity out of those sanctifying powers, that are bound up with the atoning work which we have made our own (see Daniel 9:24). The ancients recognised this connection between the justitia fidei et vitae better than many of the moderns, who look askance at the Romish justitia infusa, and therewith boast of advancing knowledge. Because our righteousness has its roots in the forgiveness of sins, as an absolutely unmerited gift of grace without works, the prophecy returns once more from the justifying work of the Servant of God to His sin-expunging work as the basis of all righteousness: "He shall bear their iniquities." This yisbōl (He shall bear), which stands along with futures, and therefore, being also future itself, refers to something to be done after the completion of the work to which He is called in this life (with which Hofmann connects it), denotes the continued operation of His sebhâlâm (Isaiah 53:4), through His own active mediation. His continued lading of our trespasses upon Himself is merely the constant presence and presentation of His atonement, which has been offered once for all. The dead yet living One, because of His one self-sacrifice, is an eternal Priest, who now lives to distribute the blessings that He has acquired.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.The last reward of His thus working after this life for the salvation of sinners, and also of His work in this life upon which the former is founded, is victorious dominion. "Therefore I give Him a portion among the great, and with strong ones will He divide spoil; because He has poured out His soul into death: and He let Himself be reckoned among transgressors; whilst He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." The promise takes its stand between humiliation and exaltation, and rests partly upon the working of the exalted One, and partly upon the doing and suffering of One who was so ready to sacrifice Himself. Luther follows the lxx and Vulgate, and adopts the rendering, "Therefore will I give Him a great multitude for booty;" and Hvernick, Stier, and others adopt essentially the same rendering, "Therefore will I apportion to Him the many." But, as Job 39:17 clearly shows, this clause can only mean, "Therefore will I give Him a portion in the many." If, however, chillēq b' means to have a portion in anything, and not to give the thing itself as a portion, it is evident that hârabbı̄m here are not the many, but the great; and this is favoured by the parallel clause. The ideas of greatness and force, both in multitude and might, are bound up together in rabh and ‛âtsūm (see Isaiah 8:7), and the context only can decide which rendering is to be adopted when these ideas are separated from one another. What is meant by "giving a portion bârabbı̄m," is clearly seen from such passages as Isaiah 52:15; Isaiah 49:7, according to which the great ones of the earth will be brought to do homage to Him, or at all events to submit to Him. The second clause is rendered by Luther, "and He shall have the strong for a prey." This is at any rate better than the rendering of the lxx and Vulgate, "et fortium dividet spolia." But Proverbs 16:19 shows that את is a preposition. Strong ones surround Him, and fight along with Him. The reference here is to the people of which it is said in Psalm 110:3, "They people are thorough devotion in the day of Thy power;" and this people, which goes with Him to battle, and joins with Him in the conquest of the hostile powers of the world (Revelation 19:14), also participates in the enjoyment of the spoils of His victory. With this victorious sway is He rewarded, because He has poured out His soul unto death, having not only exposed His life to death, but "poured out" (he‛ĕrâh, to strip or empty, or pour clean out, even to the very last remnant) His life-blood into death (lammâveth like the Lamed in Psalm 22:16), and also because He has suffered Himself to be reckoned with transgressors, i.e., numbered among them (niph. tolerativum), namely, in the judgment of His countrymen, and in the unjust judgment (mishpât) by which He was delivered up to death as a wicked apostate and transgressor of the law. With והוּא there is attached to נמנה ואת־פּשׁעים (He was numbered with the transgressors), if not in a subordinate connection (like והוא) in Isaiah 53:5; (compare Isaiah 10:7), the following antithesis: He submitted cheerfully to the death of a sinner, and yet He was no sinner, but "bare the sin of many (cf., Hebrews 9:28), and made intercession for the transgressors." Many adopt the rendering, "and He takes away the sin of many, and intervenes on behalf of the transgressors." But in this connection the preterite נשׂא) can only relate to something antecedent to the foregoing future, so that יפגּיע denotes a connected past; and thus have the lxx and Vulg. correctly rendered it. Just as בּ הפגּיע in Isaiah 53:6 signifies to cause to fall upon a person, so in Jeremiah 15:11 it signifies to make one approach another (in supplication). Here, however, as in Isaiah 59:16, the hiphil is not a causative, but has the intensive force of the kal, viz., to press forward with entreaty, hence to intercede (with a Lâmed of the person on whose behalf it occurs). According to the cons. temporum, the reference is not to the intercession (ἔντευξις) of the glorified One, but to that of the suffering One, on behalf of His foes. Every word stands here as if written beneath the cross on Golgotha. And this is the case with the clause before us, which was fulfilled (though not exclusively) in the prayer of the crucified Saviour: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
"The prophetic view," says Oehler, who agrees with us in the general opinion that the idea of the Servant of Jehovah has three distinct stages, "ascends in these discourses step by step, as it were, from the one broad space covered by the foundation-walls of a cathedral up to the very summit with its giddy height, on which the cross is planted; and the nearer it reaches the summit, the more conspicuous do the outlines of the cross itself become, until at last, when the summit is reached, it rests in peace, having attained what it desired when it set its foot upon the first steps of the temple tower." There is something very striking in this figure. Here, in the very centre of this book of consolation, we find the idea of the Servant of Jehovah at the very summit of its ascent. It has reached the goal. The Messianic idea, which was hidden in the general idea of the nation regarded as "the servant of Jehovah," has gradually risen up in the most magnificent metamorphosis from the depths in which it was thus concealed. And this fusion has generated what was hitherto altogether strange to the figure of the Messiah, viz., the unio mystica capitis et corporis. Hitherto Israel has appeared simply as the nation governed by the Messiah, the army which He conducted into battle, the commonwealth ordered by Him. But now, in the person of the Servant of Jehovah, we see Israel itself in personal self-manifestation: the idea of Israel is fully realized, and the true nature of Israel shines forth in all its brilliancy. Israel is the body, and He the head, towering above it. Another element, with which we found the Messianic idea enriched even before Isaiah 53:1-12, was the munus triplex. As early as chapters 7-12 the figure of the Messiah stood forth as the figure of a King; but the Prophet like unto Moses, promised in Deuteronomy 18:15, was still wanting. But, according to chapters 42, 49, Isaiah 50:1-11, the servant of Jehovah is first a prophet, and as the proclaimer of a new law, and the mediator of a new covenant, really a second Moses; at the close of the work appointed Him, however, He receives the homage of kings, whilst, as Isaiah 53:1-12 clearly shows, that self-sacrifice lies between, on the ground of which He rules above as Priest after the order of Melchizedek - in other words, a Priest and also a King. From this point onward there are added to the Messianic idea the further elements of the status duplex and the satisfactio vicaria. David was indeed the type of the twofold state of his antitype, inasmuch as it was through suffering that he reached the throne; but where have we found, in all the direct Messianic prophecies anterior to this, the suffering path of the Ecce Homo even to the grave? But the Servant of Jehovah goes through shame to glory, and through death to life. He conquers when He falls; He rules after being enslaved; He lives after He has died; He completes His work after He Himself has been apparently cut off. His glory streams upon the dark ground of the deepest humiliation, to set forth which the dark colours were supplied by the pictures of suffering contained in the Psalms and in the book of Job. And these sufferings of His are not merely the sufferings of a confessor or a martyr, like those of the ecclesia pressa, but a vicarious atoning suffering, a sacrifice for sin. To this the chapter before us returns again and again, being never tired of repeating it. "Spiritus Sanctus," says Brentius, "non delectatur inani battologi'a, et tamen quum in hoc cap. videatur βαττολόγος καὶ ταυτολόγος esse, dubium non est, quin tractet rem cognitu maxime necessariam." The banner of the cross is here set up. The curtain of the most holy is lifted higher and higher. The blood of the typical sacrifice, which has been hitherto dumb, begins to speak. Faith, which penetrates to the true meaning of the prophecy, hopes on not only for the Lion of the tribe of Judah, but also for the Lamb of God, which beareth the sin of the world. And in prophecy itself we see the after-effect of this gigantic advance. Zechariah no longer prophesies of the Messiah merely as a king (Isaiah 5:13); He not only rules upon His throne, but is also a priest upon His throne: sovereignty and priesthood go hand in hand, being peacefully united in Him. And in Zechariah 12:13 the same prophet predicts in Him the good Divine Shepherd, whom His people pierce, though not without thereby fulfilling the counsel of God, and whom they afterwards long for with bitter lamentation and weeping. The penitential and believing confession which would then be made by Israel is prophetically depicted by Isaiah's pen - "mourning in bitter sorrow the lateness of its love."