Branch Prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah

 

Three Hebrew prophets over the span of 200 years – Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah – had one particular prophecy in common.[1] All foretold of the coming “Branch” or the “Sprout” in Jewish Bible translations.

Generations after King David’s reign, some 700 years before Jesus of Nazareth was born, the remnants of Israel were in a downward death spiral. For centuries, despite many warnings from numerous prophets, the Hebrews and their kings failed to abide by their contractual Covenant made with God at Mt. Sinai.[2]

Renowned as a foremost prophet of God by both Judaism and Christianity, Isaiah warned Kings Ahaz and Hezekiah of the consequences their nation faced. Isaiah prophesied the “King of Babylon” would one day take away their descendants to serve as eunuchs in his palace.[3]

Warnings also came with good tidings when Isaiah prophesied about the coming future Messiah.[4] In one, Isaiah foretold of a male “Branch” or “Sprout” who would grow out  from the root of Jesse:[5]

Is 11:1-2 “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.  The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”(NKJV)

A century after Isaiah’s prophecies, defiance by the Hebrews continued leading to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of judgement at the hands of the King of Babylon.[6] Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the city and captivity of some of Israel’s finest are documented in the Book of Daniel.

Prophet Jeremiah added more bad news prophesying that the secession of sitting kings in the House of David would end with Jeconiah aka Jehoiachin.[7] Amidst the doom and gloom forecast, Jeremiah also predicted good news about the coming Messiah. Twice the prophet foretold that God would raise up a King in the lineage of David who will be a righteous judge:

Jer 23:5 “”Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth…”” (NKJV)

Jer  33:15 “‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth…’” (NKJV)

Moving ahead another century since Jeremiah’s prophecies, the 70 years of the Babylonian captivity had ended with the Medes and Persian invasion.[8] One of Isaiah’s prophecies was fulfilled two centuries after he had foretold that a future ruler named Cyrus would arise allowing Jerusalem and the Temple to be rebuilt. Cyrus, ruler of the Persian Empire, conquered Babylon and took control of the Hebrew captives issuing a decree:[9]

‘The Lord God of the heavens has given to me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build for him a temple in Jerusalem in Judah. May the Lord your God energize you who belong to his people, so you may be able to go back there!”(NET)

Darius honored Cyrus’ decree for the Hebrews to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.[10] “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.”[11]

Describing his fourth vision in which Zechariah was present, Joshua the Priest stood before the angel of the LORD along with Satan who was there to accuse the priest. Satan was rebuked by God and Joshua was given fine new clothes.[12] In the vision, God then spoke directly to the high Priest:[13]

Zech 3:8 “‘Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch.’” (NASB)

God identified the Branch as “My servant” in Zechariah’s prophecy. “My servant” is the focus of Isaiah’s parashah prophecy of Isaiah 52-53 issued two hundred years earlier where the Servant is subjected to unusual cruelties consistent with a Roman crucifixion described in the Gospels.

Narrating his eighth vision, Zechariah received instructions from God to choose people from among the exiles to make a crown of gold and silver, then set the symbolic crown upon the head of Joshua, the high Priest. Zechariah was then directed to deliver this message to the Priest:[14]

Zech 6:12-13 “…‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD; Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”’” (NKJV)

In the vision prophecy, there is no one person present at this event who is the focus of God’s message. As such, the prophecy pointed to someone else in the future named the Branch who would sit upon the throne as both King and priest who would build the Temple.

Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi commented he believed the prophecies were in reference to Zerubbabel while acknowledging others viewed it as referring to the Messiah.[15] Jewish sage Rabbi Maimonides viewed the Isaiah and Zechariah prophecies to be about the Messiah.[16]

Prophecies from Isaiah before the Babylonian captivity, Jeremiah during the Babylonian captivity and Zechariah after the Babylonian captivity, point to a future figure called the Branch. Combining the characteristics of these prophecies, the foretold Branch will be a wise, understanding King and priest from the lineage of David who will build the Temple and righteously judge the earth with a counsel of peace as a Servant of God.

What are the odds that Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of the Branch prophecies?

 

Updated 18 October, 2022

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

REFERENCES:

[1] “Isaiah.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2019. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Isaiah> “Isaiah.” New World Encyclopedia. 2018. <https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Isaiah>  “Jeremiah.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2019. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jeremiah-Hebrew-prophet>  “Jeremiah.” New World Encyclopedia. 2018. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Jeremiah>  “Zechariah.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2019. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/biblical-literature/The-last-six-minor-prophets#ref597798>  “Zechariah, Book of.” New World Encyclopedia. 2013. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Zechariah,_Book_of>
[2] Exodus 24:3-8.  CR Deuteronomy 29.
[3] Isaiah 39:7. “ben.” Netbible.org. <http://classic.net.bible.org/strong.php?id=01121> Messiah’s Branch. Prophetic Information Ministries. image. n.d. <http://www.propheticinformationministries.com/Messichs%20Branch.gif>
[4] I Chronicles 2:11-13; 2 Ruth 4:17.
[5] The Complete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary. Rashi commentary on Isaiah 11:1.   <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16210/showrashi/true> CR Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:10.  CR 1 Chronicles 2:12-15, 3:16-18; Ruth 4:21-22; Matthew 1:5-16; Luke 2:4; 23-31.  Ryrie. “Introduction to the Book of Isaiah.”
[6] Jeremiah 24:10-16; 52:27-33; Esther 2:6; 2 Kings 24:6, 8, 12, 14-15; 25:27, 29
[7] Chronicles 36:8, 9; Jeremiah 22:24-30. CR Jeremiah 24:1; 27:20; 28:4; 29:2, 52:31, 33; 1 Chronicles 3:16, 17; 24:15; 2 Chronicles 36:8, 9; Esther 2:6; 2 Kings 24:6, 8, 12, 15; 25:27, 29; Ezekiel 1:2.
[8] 2 Chronicles 36:22; Ezra 2:1.
[9] 2 Chronicles 36:23; Isaiah 44:28, 45:1, 13; Ezekiel 1:2-3.  CR Ezra 2:1-2; Nehemiah 7:6; Isaiah 41:2-3, 25, 27; 43:9, 21; 48:14-15.  Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities of the Jews. Book XI, Chapters I.1-2. Trans. and commentary.  William Whitson.  The Complete Works of Josephus. 1850. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>
[10] Ezekiel 1:2-3, 6:7,12. “Darius I.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2019. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Darius-I> Josephus. Antiquities. Book XI, Chapters III.8, IV.1-2.
[11] NET, NIV. “Darius I.” Encyclopædia Britannica.
[12] Zechariah 3.
[13] Plaut, Gunther. “Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: Back in the Land.”  MyJewishLearning.com. n.d. <http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Prophets/Latter_Prophets/The_12_Minor_Prophets/Haggai_Zechariah_Malachi.shtml>
[14] I Chronicles 3:17-19; Haggai 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 23; Ezra 3:8.
[15] The Complete Jewish Bible – with Rashi Commentary. Rashi commentary on Zechariah 6:12.   <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16210/showrashi/true>
[16] Maimonides, “Letter to the South (Yemen)”. p374.  Neubauer and Driver.  The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters. <https://books.google.com/books?id=YxdbAAAAQAAJ&pg=PP1&hl=en#v=onepage&q=advent&f=false>

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

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.

Creative Commons License

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

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.