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|Some Jews Say||Marty Replies|
|C. Suffering Servant. Christianity claims that Isaiah chapter 53 refers to Jesus, as the “suffering servant.” In actuality, Isaiah 53 directly follows the theme of chapter 52, describing the exile and redemption of the Jewish people. The prophecies are written in the singular form because the Jews (“Israel”) are regarded as one national family. The Torah is filled with examples of the Jewish nation referred to with a singular pronoun.||
The beginning of Isaiah 52 addresses the people Israel. Is 52:1 “Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake yourself from the dust, arise, O captive Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” But Isaiah’s vision of Zion restored refers to Jesus. “For thus says the Lord: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” Jesus told His twelve Apostles, Mt 10:8 “You received without paying, give without pay.” Isaiah prophesied, Is 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Jesus read in the synagogue at Nazareth, Lk 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Jesus closed the book and added, Lk 4:18 “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Now let’s look at
To most Catholics, that looks a lot like Jesus on the Cross!
Jews who say that the Suffering Servant is the whole people Israel are right of course that the Hebrew Scriptures often refer to Israel as a single person, but most of the time as a female! Is 1:21 “How the faithful city has become a harlot, she that was full of justice!” Is 52:2 “O captive daughter of Zion.” The use of the masculine, Is 53:3 “He was despised …” suggests that the subject was probably not Israel.
But the basis for believing that Isaiah’s Suffering Servant was not the whole people Israel is theological, rather than grammatical. The mitzvot for sacrifices and offerings emphasize that the Temple sacrifices had to be perfect, without blemish.
It has been so from the beginning. The Torah contrasts Abel’s choice and generous sacrifice with Cain’s careless offering to show the importance of true love for the Lord. Gen 4:3 “In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.”
The Jewish spiritual level had been falling more or less constantly since the time of Moses. The era of Israel’s greatest kedusha, holiness, was from the time of Moses to the time of Solomon, when the pillar of fire beside the original Tabernacle revealed our Father’s presence to all, while the Shkhina, the shining glory of God, rested in the Holy of Holies. Solomon’s Temple no longer had the pillar of fire, but it still had the Shkhina.
By Isaiah’s time, the people Israel were far from perfect. Jer 7:30 “For the sons of Judah have done evil in my sight, says the LORD; they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to defile it.” The Aaronic priests were sacrificing to pagan gods, and pagan cult prostitution was taking place in Solomon’s Temple.
It was even worse than that. Jer 7:31 “And they have built the high place of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.” The Israelites were sacrificing their own children to pagan gods! Israel was not without blemish! They could not have been the innocent sacrificed for the redemption of pagans because they were behaving as pagans. They needed a goel, a Redeemer.
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