Was Jesus Born as the Messiah, the Son of God?


Two related questions are commonly asked about the birth of Jesus of Nazareth:  was he really born, actually a real person; and was Jesus born as the Son of God, the Messiah? If Jesus of Nazareth never existed, then he cannot be the promised Messiah.

Ultimately a personal decision, the answer to the question involves substantial amounts of information to be evaluated. Gospel accounts, historical accounts, astronomy and even the archenemies of Christianity all come into play, not to mention pure logic.

Circumstantially, an entirely new religion was spawned by the teachings and events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth – Christianity. Something profound eventually changed the official views of the Roman empire with Christianity going on to become the largest religion in the world, over 2 billion people today.[1]

No one else has been so influential as to change calendars making Jesus the most impactful figure in history. The likelihood that calendars were changed based on someone who never existed is a very difficult concept to believe. The modern-day effort to change “BC” and “AD” to “BCE” and “CE” designations are still based on the fact the calendar change occurred at the same point in time as the life of Jesus.[2]

Religion archenemies of Christianity commonly agree on the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth. Jewish ancestral birth records and the lineage of Jesus are undisputed by Judaism.[3] The fact that Jesus was crucified is a fundamental component of the Jewish religion.[3]

Jewish Encyclopedia in its article “Jesus of Nazareth” states that Jesus is a real historical figure, even pinpointing a date of his birth.[4] The miraculous conception of Mary and the birth of Jesus are also recognized by the Quran.[5]

Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are accounts about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. They point out prophecies that were fulfilled and cite many witness accounts to corroborate their accounts. Whether or not they were just a series of extreme coincidences points to the legal Doctrine of Chances.

Historical references in the Gospels cite five rulers consistent with secular history that raises the bar of Gospel answerability and credibility to the highest degree. Caesar Augustus, King Herod, Quirinius, Procurator Pilate and Archelaus – all are referenced in the Gospels lending credence to the Nativity story of its authors.[6]

Birth circumstances described in Matthew and Luke spell out a scenario that is uncanny lending credence to the reason for the Nativity story to be dubbed “the greatest story ever told.” The Nativity story begins in three diverse countries of Rome, Persia and Judea, involves non-Jewish and non-Christian Magi, astronomy and a Roman Caesar. The Nativity story ends by converging in one place – Bethlehem.

Months in the making by the Roman government, the decree by Caesar Augustus forced the location change of the birthplace of Jesus. The decree in Nazareth compelled Joseph and Mary in her late-stage of pregnancy to abruptly make the days-long trek to Bethlehem where she went into labor. Had Jesus been born in Nazareth, it would have completely eliminated the potential fulfillment of Micah’s Bethlehem prophecy.[7]

Magi from the East presumed to be from Persia made preparations to travel around the edges of the vast Arabian Desert on a month’s long journey to Judea to find the newborn King of Israel. They were compelled by what they saw in the sky, not by any prophecies or scriptures.

Multiple rare planet and star conjunctions occurred in an unusually brief period of time shortly before the birth of Jesus, seconds in astronomical time. Typically these close conjunctions occur centuries or millennia apart; however, all occurred over the course of only months. [8] NASA astronomy science and technology confirms it all happened, both in timing and close proximity.[9]

When the Magi began their month’s long journey to Judea, their final destination was unclear. They sought out the ruthless King Herod in Jerusalem for assistance in finding the newborn King signaled by “his star.”[10]

Messiah prophecies that may have been fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth originate in the Tenakh, the Old Testament. Christianity accepts prophecies about the Messiah, such as the Branch prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah; the Psalms; the crucifixion and the Resurrection.

Judaism does not unanimously recognize some of these prophecies as pertaining to the Messiah. Renowned Jewish sages, including Rabbi Rashi and Rabbi Maimonides, had differing views on some prophecies deemed to be messianic by Christians.

One Messiah prophecy; however, is virtually undisputed by Jews or Christians alike – the Messiah would be born in the lineage of King David.[11] Gospels Matthew and Luke report that Jesus was a royal heir to David, a fact not a disputed by Judaism.

Assessing all the circumstances involving the life of Jesus of Nazareth obviously has a direct impact on believability. The U.S. legal Doctrine of Chances suggests it was not an accident. Secular history and astronomy science corroborate the conclusion of the Doctrine.

What are the odds that Jesus was born as the Son of God, the Messiah?


Updated May 27, 2023.

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


[1] “What is the #1 religion in the world?” Search. Google. 2020. <https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+the+%231+religion+in+the+world&oq=what+is+the+%231+rel&aqs=chrome.0.0i457j0j69i57j0j0i22i30l4.10361j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8>
[2] Hocken, Vigdis. “Common Era (CE) and Before Common Era (BCE).” TimeandDate.com. 2020. <https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/ce-bce-what-do-they-mean.html> Mark, Joshua J. “The Origin and History of the BCE/CE Dating System.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. 2020. <https://www.ancient.eu/article/1041/the-origin-and-history-of-the-bcece-dating-system>
[3]“Jesus of Nazareth.” Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011. <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8616-jesus-of-nazareth>  Messiah. Triton World Mission Center. image. n.d. <https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrFGczYdVhjL.gT5Bg2nIlQ;_ylu=c2VjA3NlYXJjaARzbGsDYnV0dG9u;_ylc=X1MDMTM1MTE5NTcwMgRfcgMyBGZyA3locy1hZGstYWRrX3NibnQEZnIyA3A6cyx2OmksbTpzYi10b3AEZ3ByaWQDMzh6Tm9GQmVSYTJoSU9hTDIzbDFOQQRuX3JzbHQDMARuX3N1Z2cDMARvcmlnaW4DaW1hZ2VzLnNlYXJjaC55YWhvby5jb20EcG9zAzAEcHFzdHIDBHBxc3RybAMwBHFzdHJsAzIzBHF1ZXJ5A01lc3NpYWglMjBwcm9waGVjeSUyMGltYWdlcwR0X3N0bXADMTY2Njc0MjIyNw–?p=Messiah+prophecy+images&fr=yhs-adk-adk_sbnt&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Ai%2Cm%3Asb-top&ei=UTF-8&x=wrt&type=yhs-adk_sbnt_appfocus1_sm_ff&hsimp=yhs-adk_sbnt&hspart=adk&param1=20210118&param2=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&param3=searchmanager_%7EUS%7Eappfocus1%7E&param4=%7Efirefox%7E%7E#id=158&iurl=http%3A%2F%2Ftritonubf.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F04%2FThe-Messiah-in-Judaism-Christianity-and-Islam-04.jpg&action=click
[4] Maimon, Moshe ben (Maimonides). “Melachim uMilchamot.” Chabad.org. Chapter 11, #4. <https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1188356/jewish/Melachim-uMilchamot-Chapter-11.htm>  CR I Chronicles 9:1; Matthew 1:5; Luke 3:32. Josephus, Flavius. Against Apion. Trans. and commentary William Whitson. Book 1, #7. The Complete Works of Josephus.  <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>  Hall, David Markel.  “The Temple of G-d.”  1997.  Zion Messianic Congregation of Austin, Texas. <http://tzion.org/articles/temple.html>  “Jewish Genealogy & Surnames.” Archives. Archives.com. n.d. <http://www.archives.com/genealogy/family-heritage-jewish.html>  “Jesus.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. pp 246-251. Encyclopaedia Judaica. Eds. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 11. 2nd edition. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/infomark.do?action=interpret&eisbn=9780028660974&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=imcpl1111&type=aboutBook&version=1.0&authCount=1&u=imcpl1111>
[5] Quran. Trans. Abdullah Yusuf Ali. n.d. Search “Jesus.” <http://search-the-quran.com>  “The Descriptive Titles of Jesus in the Quran (part 1 of 2): “The Messiah” and “a Miracle.”’ IslamReligion.com. 2020. <http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/230>  The Quran. JM Rodwell Translation With text notes. “Preface.” <http://www.truthnet.org/islam/Quran/Rodwell/Introduction.html>
[6] Matthew 2:1, 22; 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 2:1-2; John 19:1.
[7] Micah 5:2 (verse 1 in Jewish Bibles).
[8] Ventrudo, Brian. “Measuring The Sky.”  “Venus and Jupiter’s Upcoming Conjunction.” Universe Today. 2004. <http://www.universetoday.com/10006/venus-and-jupiters-upcoming-conjunction/#ixzz2B6cvKJEt>  Dickinson, David. “Is This Month’s Jupiter-Venus Pair Really a Star of Bethlehem Stand In?” Universe Today. 2015. <https://www.universetoday.com/122738/is-this-months-jupiter-venus-pair-really-a-star-of-bethlehem-stand-in/> Beatty, Kelly. “Venus and Jupiter: Together at Last.” Sky & Telescope. 2015. <http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/venus-and-jupiter-a-dazzling-duo-062520154 >  Cain, Fraser. “Venus and Jupiter’s Upcoming Conjunction.” Universe Today. 2004. http://www.universetoday.com/10006/venus-and-jupiters-upcoming-conjunction/#ixzz2B6cvKJEt> Carroll, Susan S. “The Star of Bethlehem:  An Astronomical and Historical Perspective.” Pulcherrima Productions.  1997. Twin Cities Creation Science Association. n.d. <http://www.tccsa.tc/articles/star_susan_carroll.pdf>
[9] Phillips, Tony. “A Christmas Star for SOHO.” NASA Science | Science New. 2018. <http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2000/ast16may_1>  Haley, A. S. “The Star of Bethlehem and the Nativity.” Anglican Curmudgeon. Video. 2009. <http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/10/star-of-bethlehem-and-nativity.html>  CR “Birth of Jesus.” Navsoft.com. 2012. http://navsoft.com/html/birth_of_jesus.html>  Clevenger, John. “Astronomy, Astrology, and the Star of Bethlehem.”  Lake County (Illinois) Astronomical   Society. 2012. <http://www.lcas-astronomy.org/articles/display.php?filename=the_christmas_star&category=miscellaneous>
[10] Matthew 2:1-3.
[11] Maimon, Moshe ben (Maimonides). “Melachim uMilchamot.” Chabad.org. Chapter 11, #4.  Numbers 17-19. The Complete Jewish Bible. Rashi Commentary. <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9952/showrashi/true

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.


[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>

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 in Column XLIV, The Scroll begins the Isaiah 52-53 parashah with the 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.


Creative Commons License

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

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


[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