The Great Isaiah Scroll – Science Revelations

 

Isaiah is considered by Judaism and Christianity to be the greatest of all the prophets making the Book of Isaiah the greatest of all the prophetic books in the Bible.[1] The Talmud contains many references and interpretations of Isaiah’s prophecies with Sanhedrin tractate 98 alone making ten references.[2]

Paramount to the prophecies of Isaiah is having confidence that his prophecies are reflected accurately in today’s Bibles.[3] The sciences of archeology and textual criticism enhanced by technology play a major role in making that determination.

Produced from 285-247 BC, the Septuagint LXX translation is the primary foundation for Christian Bibles. Josephus, a Jewish Pharisee, described in detail the origin of the translation. Egypt ruler Ptolemy Philadelphius wrote to Priest Eleazar in Jerusalem requesting six of the best elders from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to make a Greek translation from the official Hebrew text.[4]

Elders including priests traveled to Egypt with scrolls from the Temple for the translation project.[5] King Ptolemy was most impressed with the condition of the scrolls:

“…and when the membranes, upon which they had their law written in golden letters, he put questions to them concerning those books; and when they had taken off the covers wherein they were wrapt up, they showed him the membranes.  So the king stood admiring the thinness of those membranes, and the exactness of the junctures; which could not be perceived, (so exact were they connected one with another;)…”[6]

Upon completion, the Greek translation was reviewed again by “both the priests and the ancientest of the elders, and the principal men…” and finalized with a promise that it would never be changed.[7] “Septuagint” in Latin means 70 as does the Roman Numeral “LXX” representing those who worked together on the translation.[8]

Hebrew Bible translations are based on two surviving Hebrew Masoretic Texts (MT), the Aleppo Codex dated to 925 AD and the Leningrad Codex circa 1008-10 AD.[9] About a third of the Aleppo text was destroyed in a synagogue fire resulting in a dependency on the Leningrad manuscript to fill in the missing text.

Spanning the timeline between the Septuagint and the MT is at least 1150 years. In the interim, many events transpired in Judea– the Greek Empire with its language and Hellenism influences; the rule of King Herod; and domination by the Roman Empire which destroyed Jerusalem with the Temple in 70 AD.[10] These seismic events affected the purity of the MT translations.

Addressing these impacts opened the door to the Miqraot Gedolot HaKeter Project to produce a “precise letter-text” translation of the Masoretic text. Director Menachem Cohen, Professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University of Israel, said the project was intended to address the “thousands of flaws of the previous and current editions.”[11]

The Great Isaiah Scroll

Dead Sea Scroll discoveries at Qumran, beginning in 1947 continuing over the next decade until 1956, revealed a treasure trove of ancient scrolls determined to be about 2000 years old.[12] Two scrolls of Isaiah were among the discoveries, one virtually complete scroll known as “Qa” and the second scroll known as “Qb” which is about 75% complete.[13]

For good reason, the Qa scroll has been dubbed “The Great Isaiah Scroll” and is on display in Jerusalem at the Shrine of the Book.[14] “The Scroll” can be viewed in its entirety on the Internet.[15]

Dated to c. 125 BC, The Scroll was compromised of 17 pieces of leather sewn together, each strip containing from 2 to 4 pages of text.[16] It serves as a side-by-side older Hebrew text comparison for the MT and, by predating the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth, it precludes the claim of any Christian influences.

A precept of the science of textual criticism is the shorter the time interval between the original and the existing text, the greater the level of textual purity – the shorter the time frame, the fewer number of interim handwritten copies where variations are inevitably introduced.[17]

Josephus revealed the translation of the Greek Septuagint is based on a side-by-side Hebrew text taken directly from the Temple suggesting textual purity of the highest degree.[18] Translation nuances are to be expected in the Greek translation because some ancient Hebrew characters do not have a direct Greek equivalent.[19] As with any translation, some words or phrases must be deciphered by the translators with a heavy dependence on the context.[20]

Inevitably, the lack of not having a side-by-side text significantly impacted the MT purity. The variations posed a huge challenge to the Miqraot Gedolot HaKeter Project team where even the spelling of “Israel” appears differently.[21]

“…the aggregate of known differences in the Greek translations is enough to rule out the possibility that we have before us today’s Masoretic Text. The same can be said of the various Aramaic translations; the differences they reflect are too numerous for us to class their vorlage as our Masoretic Text.” – Menachem Cohen[22]

Focus is placed only on the two major controversial prophecies of Isaiah 7:14 and the Chapter 52-53 parashah. The differences are found in the very small vowel punctuations seen more easily with technology enhancements.[23]

“The major difference between the Aleppo Codex and the Dead Sea Scrolls is the addition of the vowel pointings (called nikkudot in Hebrew) in the Aleppo Codex to the Hebrew words.” – Jeff A Benner[24]

Isaiah 7:14 is entirely written in the future tense making it an undisputed prophecy although there are several potentially meaningful differences between the MT and Septuagint reflected by The Scroll.[25] Variations include the translation controversy of the two Hebrew words ha-alamah; a text pronoun difference and two name differences.[26]

MT translates ha-almah as “a young woman” while The Scroll translated the words as “a young maiden.”[27] In Hebrew, ha exclusive means “the” – specific to the noun that follows.[28] The Septuagint translated the Hebrew words ha-almah into Greek as “ha Parthenos” precisely meaning “the virgin.”[29]

Pronoun differences appear where the MT says “she” will call his name; The Scroll says “he” will call his name; and the Septuagint generically refers to “you” earlier in the text.[30] “He” refers to God in The Scroll whereas “she” refers to the mother in the MT and “you” refers to the audience.

Two other noteworthy differences are the MT and Septuagint use of the word Adonai for “Lord” (rather than “LORD”) while The Scroll translation uses YHWH, the name of God.[31] At the end of the verse, the MT writes Immanu-el as two words; however, The Scroll writes it as a single word “Immanuel.” In Hebrew, one word always indicates a name.

Interestingly, The Scroll begins the Isaiah 52-53 parashah in Column XLIV with the Isaiah 52:13 reference to “my servant.”[32] Most differences are grammatical and do not change the general text; however, there are some notable exceptions found in The Scroll.[33]

An omission begins the differences in 53:2 where The Scroll includes in the margin, two words, “before us” while the MT says “before him.” No Bible translation includes these words in the first sentence which would otherwise say something like, “out of dry ground before us or him.”[34]

Perhaps the most significant difference between the Septuagint and the MT is Isaiah 53:7 with the Hebrew word חֹ֑לִי (choliy), but the issue is not settled by The Scroll. The word has been translated mainly in Bibles as “grief,” “suffering” or “disease.”[35]

One last possibly significant difference revealed by The Scroll is the appearance of the word nephsho meaning “light” in the equivalent verse 53:11. The Septuagint includes the word as do several Christian Bible translations (BSB, CSB, ISV, NAB, NHEB, NIV, NRSV, WEB*); however, other Christian and Jewish Bibles including the MT translate the word as “it.”[36]

How likely is it that The Great Isaiah Scroll more accurately reflects the original Hebrew text written by the prophet Isaiah?

 

Updated September 27, 2022.

* BSB = Berean Study Bible; CSB = Christian Standard Bible; ISV = International Standard Version; NAB = New American Bible; NHEB = New Heart English Bible; NIV = New International Version; NRSV = New Revised Standard Verson;;WEB = World English Bible

 

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This work is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] “Isaiah.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8235-isaiah> “Isaiah.” Biblica | The International Bible Society. 2019. <https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-isaiah>
[2] Soncino Babylonian Talmud.  Sanhedrin 98a, footnote #1. Isaiah XLIX:7, XVIII:5, I:25, LIX:19, LIX:20, LX:21, LIX:16, XLVIII:11, LX:22, LIII.4. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_98.html#98b_31>  CR The Babylonian Talmud. Trans. Michael L. Rodkinson. 1918. Sanhedrin, Chapter XI, p 310. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/t08/t0814.htm>
[3] Cohen, Menachem.  “The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text and the Science of Textual Criticism.” Bar-Ilan University. 1979. <http://cs.anu.edu.au/%7Ebdm/dilugim/CohenArt>  Benner, Jeff A. “The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text.” Ancient Hebrew Research Center. 2017. <http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/bible_isaiahscroll.html>  Zeolla, Gary F. “Textual Criticismj.” Universitat De Valencia. 2000.  <http://www.uv.es/~fores/programa/introtextualcritici.html>  “Isaiah.” Biblica | The International Bible Society. 2019. <https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-isaiah>
[4] Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities of the Jews. Trans. and commentary. William Whitson. The Complete Works of Josephus. 1850. Book XII, Chapter II. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>  “Septuagint.” Septuagint.Net. 2014. <http://septuagint.net>  Benner. “The Great Isaiah Scroll.”  Lundberg, Marilyn J. “The Leningrad Codex.”  USC West Semitic Research Project. 2012. <https://web.archive.org/web/20140826133533/https://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/wsrp/educational_site/biblical_manuscripts/LeningradCodex.shtml>  “Septuagint.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2019. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Septuagint> Cohen. “The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text and the Science of Textual Criticism.”
[5] Josephus. Antiquities. Book XII, Chapter II. 5-6, 11-13. Whitson, William. The Complete Works of Josephus. 1850. Antiquities of the Jews. Book XII, Chapter.II.12, footnote *.
[6] Josephus. Antiquities. Book XII, Chapter II.11.
[7] Josephus. Antiquities. Book XII, Chapter II.13.
[8] “Septuagint.” Definitions.net. n.d. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/septuagint>  “Septuagint.” Merriam-Webster. 2020. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Septuagint>  Josephus. Antiquities. Book XII, Chapter II.7, 11.  Whitson. The Complete Works of Josephus.  Antiquities of the Jews. Book XII, Chapter.II.12, footnote *.
[9] Abegg,, et al. The Dead Sea Scrolls. “Introduction”, page x.  Aronson, Ya’akov.  “Mikraot Gedolot haKeter–Biblia Rabbinica:  Behind the scenes with the project team.”  Association Jewish Libraries.  Bar Ilan University. Ramat Gan, Israel. n.d. <http://www.jewishlibraries.org/main/Portals/0/AJL_Assets/documents/Publications/proceedings/proceedings2004/aronson.pdf>  Miller, Laura. “The Aleppo Codex: The bizarre history of a precious book.” 2012. Salon. <http://www.salon.com/2012/05/13/the_aleppo_codex_the_bizarre_history_of_a_precious_book>
[10] “Scrolls from the Dead Sea.” Library of Congress. n.d. <https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/scrolls/late.html> Greenberg, Irving. “The Temple and its Destruction.” MyJewishLearning.com. 2020. <https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-temple-its-destruction>  “Destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.” Harvard Divinity School. 2020. <https://rlp.hds.harvard.edu/faq/destruction-second-temple-70-ce>
[11] Cohen, Menachem. “Mikra’ot Gedolot – ‘Haketer’ – Isaiah.” 2009. <http://www.biupress.co.il/website_en/index.asp?id=447>
[12] “Dead Sea Scrolls.” Archaeology. 2018. <http://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/dead-sea-scrolls.htm>  “Scrolls from the Dead Sea.” Library of Congress.  Roach, John.  “8 Jewish archaeological discoveries – From Dead Sea Scroll to a ‘miracle pool.’”  Science on NBCNEWS.com. <http://www.nbcnews.com/id/28162671/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/jewish-archaeological-discoveries/#.VLU34XtFYuI>  “The Great Isaiah Scroll.” The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls. 2020. <http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah> Benner. “The Great Isaiah Scroll.” “Isaiah.” Biblica.
[13] Miller. Fred P. “The Great Isaiah Scroll.” Moellerhaus Publisher. Directory. 1998. <http://www.moellerhaus.com/qumdir.htm>  Cohen. “The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text.” Footnote #4.  Abegg, Jr., Martin G., Flint, Peter W. and Ulrich Eugene Charles.  The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: the oldest known Bible translated for the first time into English. 2002. <https://books.google.com/books?id=c4R9c7wAurQC&lpg=PP1&ots=fQpCpzCdb5&dq=Abegg%2C%20Flint%20and%20Ulrich%2C%20The%20Dead%20Dead%20Sea%20Scrolls%20Bible%2C&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=Isaiah&f=false
[14] Benner. “The Great Isaiah Scroll.” Abegg,, et al. “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” “The Great Isaiah Scroll.” AllAboutArchaeology. photo. 2021. <https://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/great-isaiah-scroll-faq.htm
[15] “The Great Isaiah Scroll.” The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls.
[16] Miller. Fred P. “Q” = The Great Isaiah Scroll Introductory Page” Chapter I, IV. Moellerhaus Publisher. 2016. <http://www.moellerhaus.com/Controversy/Controversy.htm>  Benner, Jeff A. “The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text.” “textus receptus.” The Free Dictionary. 2020. <https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Received+Text#:~:text=The%20text%20of%20a%20written,of%20recipere%2C%20to%20receive.%5D>  “The Great Isaiah Scroll.” The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls.
[17] Westcott, Brooke F. & Hort, John A. The New Testament in the Original Greek – Introduction | Appendix. pp 31, 58-59, 223-224, 310-311. 1907. <https://books.google.com/books?id=gZ4HAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+New+Testament+in+the+Original+Greek&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiOjMvk3fjXAhUE5yYKHSTHC5wQ6wEIOjAD#v=onepage&q=The%20New%20Testament%20in%20the%20Original%20Greek&f=false>  Miller. Fred P.  The Great Isaiah Scroll. Moellerhaus Publisher. 1998. “Qumran Great Isaiah Scroll.” Benner. “The Great Isaiah Scroll.”  Cohen, Menachem.  “The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text and the Science of Textual Criticism.” 
[18] Schodde, George H. Old Testament Textual Criticism. pp 45-46. 1887. <https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/469936>  Gentry, Peter J. “The Text of the Old Testament.” p 24. 2009 <https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/52/52-1/JETS%2052-1%2019-45%20Gentry.pdf>
[19] Welch, Adam Cleghorn. “Since Wellhausen.” p 175. <https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/expositor/series9/1925-09_164.pdf>  Benner, Jeff A. “Introduction to Ancient Hebrew.” <https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/introduction.htm>
[20] Benner. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.”
[21] Cohen. “The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text.” CR Miller. Fred P. “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll.” Book of Isaiah. Trans. Fred P. Miller. Moellerhaus Publisher. 2001. <http://www.moellerhaus.com/qa-tran.htm> Benner, Jeff A. “The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text.”
[22] Cohen. “The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text.” Footnotes
[23] Cohen. “The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text.” Footnotes #6-7.
[24] Benner, Jeff A. “The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text.”
[25] Miller. Fred P.  “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll.” “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll “Dead Sea Scrolls Bible Translations.” 2016. <http://dssenglishbible.com/scroll1QIsaa.htm>
[26] Miller, Fred P. “Column VI – The Great Isaiah Scroll 6:7 to 7:15.” Ancient Hebrew Research Center. n.d. <http://www.moellerhaus.com/qum-6.htm>
[27] Miller. “Column VI – The Great Isaiah Scroll 6:7 to 7:15.”  Miller. Fred P. “Assyrian Destruction of Israel is Not the End God Will Bring the Messiah to the Same Territory and the Same Restored People.” Chapters 7-8. Ancient Hebrew Research Center. n.d. <http://www.moellerhaus.com/7-8.htm#alma>  Benner, Jeff A. “Textual Criticisim of Isaiah 7:14 (Video).” 2020. <https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/textual-criticism/textual-criticism-of-isaiah-7-14.htm>  “Dead Sea Scrolls Bible Translations.”
[28] Benner. “Introduction to the Ancient Hebrew Alphabet.”
[29] Miller. “Column VI – The Great Isaiah Scroll 6:7 to 7:15.”  
[30] Benner, Jeff A. “Column VI – The Great Isaiah Scroll 6:7 to 7:15.” Miller. Fred P.  “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll.” Lines #28-29. Isaiah 7:14. NetBible.org. LXXM. <https://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Isa&chapter=7&verse=14>
[31] Benner, Jeff A. “What isthe difference between lord, Lord and LORD?” Ancient Hebrew Research Center. 2020. https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/god-yhwh/difference-between-lord-Lord-and-LORD.htm
[32] Miller. Fred P.  “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll.”
[33 Cohen. “The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text.” Footnote #4.  Benner, Jeff A. “The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text.”
[34] Miller. “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll.” Miller, Fred P. Moellerhaus Publishers. “Column XLIV – The Great Isaiah Scroll 52:13 to 54:4.” n.d. <http://www.moellerhaus.com/qum44.htm> “Dead Sea Scrolls Bible Translations.” 1Q Isaiaha,  <http://dssenglishbible.com/scroll1QIsaa.htm>  “Isaiah 53 at umran,” Hebrew Streams. <http://www.hebrew-streams.org/works/qumran/isaiah-53-qumran.pdf> Isaiah 53:2. Biblehub.com. <https://biblehub.com/isaiah/53-2.htm>  Isaiah 53:2. NetBible.org. <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Isa&chapter=53&verse=2>  Yisheyah (Book of Isaiah) JPS translation. Breslov.com. 1998. <http://www.breslov.com/bible/Isaiah53.htm#2>  Yeshayahu – Isaiah – Chapter 53. Chabad.org. Complete Jewish Bible translation. 2020. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15984>
[35] Miller. “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll.” Benner, Fred P. “The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text.” 2020. <https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/dss/great-isaiah-scroll-and-the-masoretic-text.htm#2>  “Dead Sea Scrolls Bible Translations.” 2016. <http://dssenglishbible.com/scroll1QIsaa.htm> “Isaiah 53 at Qumran.”
[36] “Isaiah 53:11.” BibleHub.com. 2020. <https://biblehub.com/isaiah/53-11.htm> “Isaiah 53:11.” NetBible.org. 2020, <http://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Isa&chapter=53&verse=11>  Isaiah 53:11. JPS translation. Isaiah 53:11. Complete Jewish Bible. Isaiah 53 :11. “Isaiah 53 at Qumran,”  Benner, Jeff A. “The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text.” Miller. “Column XLIV – The Great Isaiah Scroll 52:13 to 54:4.” n.d. <http://www.moellerhaus.com/qum-44.htm>  Miller. “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll.”  “Dead Sea Scrolls Bible Translations.” 1Q Isaiahb 2016. <http://dssenglishbible.com/scroll1QIsab.htm>  Footnote (2).r

Crucifixion Predicted in the Messiah Prophecies?

 

Often asked is the question of whether crucifixion was predicted in the prophecies. When Jesus of Nazareth was asked this question, he pointed to prophecies to be fulfilled by the Messiah.[1]

Prophecies are seldom as clear as Micah’s Bethlehem prophecy predicting the Ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem or Zechariah’s prophecy foretelling the King of Israel would come riding on the foal of a donkey.[2] Some are delivered in perplexing, oracle-style prophecies often requiring knowledge of historical context, analogies or symbolisms, and intermingling the present and future.[3]

Three parashahs or passages from the Old Testament, the Tenakh, are the focus of potential crucifixion prophecies – Psalms 22:1-24, Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Zechariah 12:8-14. Historical and modern medical analysis are consistent with them.

Historical context that substantiates these prophecies first comes from Cicero, Rome’s most celebrated orator and lawyer. In a murder prosecution case, he described how a victim of a Roman crucifixion was first scourged, “exposed to torture and nailed on that cross;” it was “the most miserable and the most painful punishment appropriate to slaves alone.”[4]

Jewish historian Josephus wrote several accounts about the terrors of crucifixion and how it became a commonplace means to kill Jews, convicted or innocent. Rescued victims did not even survive a crucifixion as attested by his own personal experience.[5]

Modern forensic medical expert analysis of a crucifixion provides further context. The act of merely trying to take a breath added to the excruciating pain of being nailed to a cross by pulling at the nail wounds driven through nerves in the wrists while pushing up full body weight on nailed feet. Many of the crucifixion victims most likely died by asphyxiation. Add to that the psychological suffering from enduring scorn, humiliation, taunting and insults.[6]

Psalms prophecies might include the well-known yet controversial, Psalms 22, depicting a man whose “bones [are] out of joint,” “heart has turned to wax,” “tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth,” and “they have pierced my hands and feet.” The parashah also describes the psychological torture of enduring agony and humiliation.

Zechariah 12:10 succinctly says the Messiah will be killed and “… they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” While both Judaism and Christianity have disagreements, even among themselves, on the exact meaning of the prophecy, they agree the Messiah would be killed by being “thrust through” or “pierced.” Gospel accounts describe Jesus being pierced by nails and thrust with a spear.[7]

Isaiah chapters 52-53 parashah of “My Servant” describes the manner of death that is wholly consistent with a Roman crucifixion. His plight is depicted to have a physical “appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.” Graphically, the parashah describes the mental anguish of “My Servant” who experiences “suffering of his soul,” is “despised and rejected by men” and is considered “stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.”[8]

Hebrew word chalal in Isaiah 53:5 is one of those words that have multiple meanings, in this case, over 20 definitions and variations. The primary definition in a negative sense is “to profane, defile, pollute, desecrate” and in a positive sense, “begin.”[9]

Virtually all Bibles translate chalal, in about a 50/50 split, as either “pierced” and “wounded” including the Jewish Publication Society and the William Davidson translation; however, The Complete Jewish Bible translates chalal as “pained.” Substituting chalal with one of the primary negative definition words may make the prophecy easier to understand.

Jewish authorities are virtually silent on the Isaiah 52-53 parashah’s graphic depiction being consistent with that of a  crucifixion and thus it does not foretell the death of “My Servant.” However, certain verses within this parashah of Isaiah are acknowledged in the Talmud and by Rabbi sages as pertaining to the Messiah.[10] If various portions of the parashah are prophecies about the Messiah, 5 of the 15 verses, then it is challenging to claim the entire parashah is not a prophecy about the Messiah.

Rabbi Jose the Galilean was a Talmud contributor recognized for his authority on sacrifices and the Temple. Quoting Isaiah 53:5 and 53:6, he declared both prophecies referred to “King Messiah” who would be “wounded” for our transgressions.[11]

Rabbi Maimonides similarly identified the Messiah as the subject of Isaiah 52:15 and 53:2. The Rabbi expounded the Messiah could be identified by his origins and his wonders.[12]

Rabbi Moshe Kohen ibn Crispin is renowned for his twelfth century authorship of Sefer ha-Musar meaning the Book of Instruction. Crispin boldly disagreed with the prevailing Jewish view that “My Servant” is a metaphor referring to the nation of Israel. Instead, Crispin said “My Servant” in Isaiah 52:13 refers to “King Messiah.”[13]

Jesus of Nazareth himself referred to the prophecies describing the manner of death for the Messiah. Days before entering Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus forewarned his Disciples predicting in precise detail of what he was about to endure as foretold by the prophets: 

LK 18:31-32 “Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be turned over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.”(NIV)

History, Judaism and Christainity affirm that Jesus of Nazareth was subjected to the horrific physical and psychological designs of a crucifixion consistent with accounts of historians and modern forensic science analysis. Is crucifixion predicted in the Messiah prophecies foretelling the manner of suffering and death by the Messiah?

Rabbi Crispin profoundly summed up the challenge for each person to arrive at his or her own conclusion about the prophecies:

“… if any one should arise claiming to be himself the Messiah, we may reflect, and look to see whether we can observe in him any resemblance to the traits described here:  if there is any such resemblance, then we may believe that he is the Messiah our righteousness; but if not, we cannot do so.”[14] – Rabbi Crispin

 

Updated December 13, 2022.

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REFERENCES:

[1] Luke 18:31-34; 22:37.
[2] Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9.
[3] Psalms 78:1-3; Hosea 12:10. Boucher, Madeleine I. “The Parables.” Excerpt from The Parables. Washington, DE:  Michael Glazier, Inc. 1980.  PBS|Frontline. n.d. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/jesus/parables.html>   Bugg, Michael. “Types of Prophecy and Prophetic Types.” Hebrew Root. n.d. <http://www.hebrewroot.com/Articles/prophetic_types.htm>
[4] Cicero, Marcus Tullius. In Verrem Actionis Secundae M. Tulli Ciceronis Libri Quinti.  “Secondary Orations Against Verres. Book 5. 70 B.C.  The Society for Ancient Languages  University of Alabama – Huntsville.  10 Feb. 2005. <https://web.archive.org/web/20160430183826/http://www.uah.edu/student_life/organizations/SAL/texts/latin/classical/cicero/inverrems5e.html>  Quintilian, Marcus Fabius. Quintilian’s Institutes of Oratory. 1856. Trans. John Selby Watson. Book 8, Chapter 4. <https://web.archive.org/web/20170815223340/http://rhetoric.eserver.org/quintilian/index.html>
[5] Josephus, Flavius. Wars of the Jews. Book II, Chapter XIV. Book V, Chapter XI. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>  Chkoreff, Larry. International School of The Bible. “Is There a New World Coming?” crucifixion. image. 2000. <http://www.isob-bible.org/world-new/04world_files/image019.gif>
[6] Cilliers, L. & Retief F. P.  “The history and pathology of crucifixion.”  South African Medical Journal.  Dec;93(12):938-41.  U.S. National Library of Medicine|National Institute of Health. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14750495>  Zugibe, Frederick T.  “Turin Lecture:  Forensic and Clinical Knowledge of the Practice of Crucifixion.”  E-Forensic Medicine. 2005. <http://web.archive.org/web/20130925103021/http:/e-forensicmedicine.net/Turin2000.htm>  Maslen, Matthew W. and Mitchell, Piers D.  “Medical theories on the cause of death in crucifixion.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.  J R Soc Med. 2006 April; 99(4): 185–188.  doi:  10.1258/jrsm.99.4.185.  National Center for Biotechnology Information. Search term Search database. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1420788>  Alchin, Linda.  “Roman Crucifixion.”  Tribunes and Triumphs. 2008.  <http://www.tribunesandtriumphs.org/roman-life/roman-crucifixion.htm> Zias, Joe. “Crucifixion in Antiquity – The Anthropological Evidence.” JoeZias.com. 2009. <http://web.archive.org/web/20121211060740/http://www.joezias.com/CrucifixionAntiquity.html>  Champlain, Edward. Nero. 2009. <https://books.google.com/books?id=30Wa-l9B5IoC&lpg=PA122&ots=nw4edgV_xw&dq=crucifixion%2C%20tacitus&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false>
[7] The Compete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary. Zechariah 12:10 <http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/The-Bible-with-Rashi.htmSoncino Babylonian Talmud. Sukkah 52a. <http://www.halakhah.com/rst/moed/16b%20-%20Succah%20-%2029b-56b.pdf>  Chkoreff, Larry. International School of The Bible. “Is There a New World Coming?” crucifixion. image. 2000. <http://www.isob-bible.org/world-new/04world_files/image019.gif>
[8] Isaiah 53:3.  Soncino Babylonian Talmud.  Sanhedrin 98a. Soncino Babylonian Talmud. footnotes: Isaiah XLIX:7, XVIII:5, I:25, LIX:19, LIX:20, LX:21, LIX:16, XLVIII:11, LX:22; footnote #31. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_98.htmlSoncino Babylonian Talmud. Sanhedrin 38a, footnote #9 to Isaiah 8:14. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_38.html>
[9] The Complete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary. <http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/63255/jewish/The-Bible-with-Rashi.htm> Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation. 1917. Benyamin Pilant. 1997. <http://www.breslov.com/bible> William Davidson Talmud, The. Talmud Bavli. The Sefaria Library. <http://www.sefaria.org/texts/Talmud> Isaiah 53:5. NetBible. Hebrew text. <https://classic.net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Isa&chapter=53&verse=5> Chalal <02490> NetBible. definitions. <https://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=02490> H2490. Lexicon-Concordance Online Bible. n.d. <http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/2490.html> Isaiah 53:5. BibleHub. 2022. <https://biblehub.com/lexicon/isaiah/53-5.htm > <https://biblehub.com/lexicon/isaiah/53-5.htm > <https://biblehub.com/isaiah/53-5.htm> 
[10] Sanhedrin 98a footnotes: Isaiah XLIX:7, XVIII:5, I:25, LIX:19, LIX:20, LX:21, LIX:16, XLVIII:11, LX:22; footnote #31. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_98.htmlSoncino Babylonian Talmud. Sanhedrin 38a, footnote #9 to Isaiah 8:14. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_38.html>
[11] The Babylonian Talmud. Rodkinson. “Part I.  Historical and Literary Introduction to the New Edition of the Talmud, Chapter 2.”  pp 10, 12-13.  <http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/t10/ht202.htmThe Babylonian Talmud. Derech Eretz-Zuta. “The Chapter on Peace.”  Yose the Galilaean. Neubauer, Driver & Rolles. The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. Quote. Siphrej. pp 10-11. <https://books.google.com/books?id=YxdbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=Jose&f=false>
[12] Moses Maimonides. Neubauer, Adolf. And Driver, Samuel Rolles.  The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. 1877. “Letter to the South (Yemen).” pp xvi, 374-375.  <http://books.google.com/books?id=YxdbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=advent&f=false>
[13] Crispin, Moshe Kohen ibn. Neubauer, Driver & Rolles. The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters  “Sefer ha-Musar.” pp 99-101.
[14] Crispin. “Sefer ha-Musar.” p 114.

Isaiah Messiah Prophecies – Any Exceptions?

 

Isaiah is the greatest of all the prophets, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, and regarded by Rabbi sages as second in importance only to Moses.[1] Prophecies of Isaiah, who lived 300 years after the reign of King David, appear throughout his writings foretelling of the Messiah.

Many of Isaiah’s prophecies are referenced in the Babylonian Talmud reinforcing their significance.[2] In tractate Sanhedrin 98 alone, six Rabbis make 11 references to Isaiah’s Messiah prophecies.[3]

Dead Sea scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls discoveries in 1947 yielded one of the most treasured finds, the Great Isaiah Scroll. Dated to about 125 BC, it is the oldest known, nearly complete Hebrew text of the Book of Isaiah.[4] Secured in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, the scroll is 1000 years older than the Masoretic texts that serve as the source for today’s Jewish Bible, the Tenakh.[5]

Translating ancient Hebrew text has its challenges. Consisting of an alphabet with only 22 consonants, they are used to form a root word some of which can often times either be a noun or a verb. Translators must rely on the broader context to fill in the vowels, tenses and other words to form a complete sentence in English.[6]

Subjective translations obviously open the door to variation which, in turn, impacts interpretations of prophecy meanings.[7] No surprise, Jewish interpretations are not always in agreement with Christian beliefs, some differences being less clear than others.[8]

A section of verses on a specific topic, known as a parashah or pericope, is found in Isaiah 52-53 about “My Servant.” About 200 years later, the Zechariah 3:8 prophecy identified “My Servant” as the “Branch.”

Excerpts of the parashah quoted  from The Complete Jewish Bible about “My Servant”:  “kings shall shut their mouths because of him;” “despised and rejected;” “no deceit in his mouth;” “from imprisonment and from judgment he is taken;” “cut off from the land of the living;” “poured out his soul to death, and with transgressors he was counted; and he bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors;” and “from the toil of his soul he would see, he would be satisfied.”[9]

Christians see these depictions of life, torment, death and satisfaction in life-after-death as prophecies foretelling the Messiah fulfilled by the trial, crucifixion, burial and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Judaism generally treats the parashah as a metaphor of a man, the nation of Israel and the house of Jacob ; however, not all Jewish authorities are in agreement.[10]

Jonathan Targum (targum means “translation”), known as the “Official Targum to the Prophets,”  is an Aramaic translation of the Tenakh with roots going back to  the 200 BC time frame, just after the rebuilding of the Temple .[11] According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, it was written “more freely, in harmony with the text of the prophetic books.”[12] The Targum was once read in Jewish worship services and is referenced in the Babylonian Talmud.[13]

Opening the parashah with Isaiah 52:13, Jonathan Targum  begins with “Behold my servant Messiah shall prosper…”  Isaiah 53:11 summarizes, “…so as to cleanse their souls from sin:  these shall look on the kingdom of their Messiah…”[14]

Preeminent Jewish Scriptures authority Rabbi Maimonides once asked a rhetorical question, “What is to be the manner of Messiah’s advent, and where will be the place of his first appearance?” Answering his own question, the Rabbi quoted two prophecies from the parashah, Isaiah 53:2, regarding the Messiah’s unheralded arrival, and Isaiah 52:15, explaining how kings would be “confounded at the wonders” the Messiah would perform.[15]

Most controversial is Isaiah 7:14 quoted in Matthew 1:23 as a prophecy fulfilled by the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Masoretic text of the Tenakh translates`almah as meaning “young woman” while nearly all Christian Bibles translate `almah as “virgin.”[16] Making the controversy more provocative are the few Christian Bible versions is the inconsistent translation of Isaiah 7:14 as “young woman” while translating it differently in Matthew as “virgin.”[17]

Jesus of Nazareth had a specific view of Isaiah’s prophecies. Starting on a Sabbath in the Synagogue of his home town, Jesus read a Messiah prophecy from Isaiah 61:1-2 to publicly open his ministry:[18]

LK 4:18-19, 21 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”…”Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (NKJV)

IS 61:1-2 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn…” (NKJV)

Hours before his arrest during his final Passover meal with his Disciples, Jesus referenced a prophecy written about himself that was soon to be fulfilled. Quoting from the parashah, Isaiah 53:12,  he said:

LK 22:37 “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”” (NIV)

As a general consensus of both Jewish and Christian authorities, Isaiah’s book of prophecies from beginning to end point to the Messiah with the exception of those prophecies called out in the Gospel accounts. Jesus himself identified the Messiah prophecies of Isaiah as the basis for people to see that he is the fulfillment of those prophecies.

Are the Gospel accounts of the circumstances of the birth, life, death and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth a fulfillment of Isaiah’s Messiah prophecies?

 

Updated October 13, 2022.

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REFERENCES:
[1] “Isaiah.”  Jewish Encyclopedia.  2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8235-isaiah>
[2] Jones, Dennis A.  “Jewish Messianic Texts.”  The Emmanuel Church of the Web. n.d.  <http://fecotw.tripod.com/id88.htmlThe Babylonian Talmud. Trans. Michael L. Rodkinson. 1918. http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/talmud.htm#t08>  Soncino Babylonian Talmud. Ed. Rabbi Isidore Epstein. 1935 – 1948. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/tcontents.html>
[3] Soncino Babylonian Talmud.  Sanhedrin 98a & b footnotes: Isaiah XLIX:7, XXIX:21  I:25, LIX:19, LIX:20, LX:21, LIX:16, XLVIII:11, LX:22; LIII.4.  Also 38a, footnote #9 to Isaiah 8:14. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_98.html>
[4] “The Great Isaiah Scroll.” 2018. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. <http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah>  Miller. Library of Congress (United States). n.d. “Scrolls From the Dead Sea.” <https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/scrolls/late.html> Israel Antiquities Authority. 2012. “The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library.”  <https://www.deadseascrolls.org.il/explore-the-archive/search#q=’Isaiah‘> Fred P. The Great Isaiah Scroll. 1998. “Qumran Great Isaiah Scroll.” <http://www.moellerhaus.com/qumdir.htm> Abegg, Jr., Martin G., Flint, Peter W. and Ulrich Eugene Charles.  The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: the oldest known Bible translated for the first time into English. 2002. p 281. <http://books.google.com/books?id=c4R9c7wAurQC&lpg=PP1&ots=fQpCpzCdb5&dq=Abegg%2C%20Flint%20and%20Ulrich%2C%20The%20Dead%20Dead%20Sea%20Scrolls%20Bible%2C&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=Isaiah&f=false>  “Dead Sea Scrolls.” Archaeology. 2018. <http://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/dead-sea-scrolls.htm>  “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” National Endowment For The Humanities. image. 2015. <https://essentials.neh.gov/sites/default/files/DeadSeaScroll_v1.jpg>
[5] Benner, Jeff A. “The Great Isaiah Scroll and the Masoretic Text.” Ancient Hebrew Research Center. 2017. <http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/bible_isaiahscroll.html> “Masoretic Text.” Encyclopædia Britannica. n.d. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/Masoretic-text>  “Jewish Concepts: Masoretic Text.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2018. <https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Masoretic.html>  “Masoretic Text.” Textus-Receptus.Com. 2016. <http://textus-receptus.com/wiki/Masoretic_Text>  “Masoretic Text.” New World Encyclopedia. 2014. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Masoretic_Text> Zew, Moshe. “The Numeric System of the Bible.” 27 Dec. 2013.  WorldWide Witness by Moshe Zew.  <http://www.kolumbus.fi/gematria/numeric.htm>
[6] “The Hebrew Language.”  MyJewishLearning.com. n.d.  <http://www.myjewishlearning.com/culture/2/Languages/Hebrew.shtml>
“History of the Hebrew Language.”   B’NAI ZAQEN. 2005. <http://www.zaqen.info/hislangu.htm> Benner, Jeff A. “Introduction to the Ancient Hebrew Vocabulary.” Ancient Hebrew Research Center. 2013. <https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/introduction.htm>  Benner, Jeff A.  “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.” Ancient Hebrew Research Center. 2017. <https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/introduction.htm>
[7] Benner. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.”
[8] Neubauer and Driver. The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. “Introduction.” pp. xxix- lxv. <https://books.google.com/books?id=YxdbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1&hl=en#v=onepage&q=introduction&f=false>  Sullivan, Charles A. “A History of Chapters and Verses in the Hebrew Bible.” 2012. <http://charlesasullivan.com/2693/a-history-of-chapters-and-verses-in-the-hebrew-bible>
[9] The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. 2018. Isaiah 52-53. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15983>
[10] The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. Isaiah 53:3. Rashi commentary. Soncino Babylonian Talmud. n.d. Sotah 14a. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sotah/sotah_14.html#14a_1> Crispin, Moshe Kohen ibn.  “Sefer ha-Musar.”  Neubauer, Driver & Rolles. The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters.  pp. 99-101.   <http://books.google.com/books?id=YxdbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=advent&f=false>
[11] Neubauer, Adolf. And Driver, Samuel Rolles. The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. 1877. “Thargum of Yonathan (Jonathan Targum)” pp. 5-7. https://books.google.com/books?id=YxdbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1&hl=en#v=onepage&q=Thargum&f=false>
[12] “Targum.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011.  < http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14248-targum >
[13] “Targum.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. “Historical Jewish Sources.” n.d. “Overview:  About Targums.”  <http://www.preteristarchive.com/BibleStudies/JewishSources/Targums/index.html>
[14] Neubauer..  The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters.  “Thargum of Yonathan.” pp. 5-7.
[15] Mangel, Nissen. “Responsa.” Chabad.org. 2018. <http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/107783/jewish/Responsa.htm> Maimonides, “Letter to the South (Yemen)”. p 374. Neubauer and Driver.  The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters.
[16] Isaiah 7:14.The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary; Jewish Publication Society Bible. <http://www.breslov.com/bible/Isaiah7.htm#14>
[17] Good News Translation; Net Bible Translation.
[18] Luke 4:16-19; Isaiah 61:1-2a.