Isaiah 53, Micah 7 and Isaiah 62

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Isaiah 53, Micah 7 and Isaiah 62

 

Isaiah 53 (52:13 – 53:12) describes the servant of the Lord who shocks the world with his unexpected exaltation. The prophet presents us with the shocked words of the onlookers as they express their astonishment. From these words we learn that the onlookers were intimately familiar with the servant long before his exaltation. But they knew him as a wretched sufferer. The exaltation of the servant will cause them to reevaluate all of the theories that they had been propounding to explain the suffering of the servant.

Who is this servant?

I propose that in order to discover the identity of the servant we search the Scriptures to see who it is that will be exalted in the Messianic era and who it is that will be shocked and shamed when the Messianic era unfolds.

We do not need to wander very…

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10 Responses to Isaiah 53, Micah 7 and Isaiah 62

  1. Yedidiah says:

    Throughout the book of Isaiah, the author is speaking to and/or of Israel & Israelites who are suffering & who are servants of God, so Israel is the true literal sense of the written narrative, first & foremost. Since much of the writing of Isaiah is poetic, a non-literal interpretation was first and foremost apply to the suffering servants of God, known as Israel (or as Jews). The plain narrative of chap 53 is of past events & personages; it was not written as prophecy. If one interprets it as “prophecy”, something which is foreordained & is the inevitable will of God, one must ask why there would be any merit to Jesus to “suffer any suffering” which supposedly was an inevitable necessity (Almighty God desired and freely chose that God should “play-act suffering” because that would show “God in all His Glory”?)? And could anyone be accused of a sin and a crime against a “sufferer”, when they were both “created and controlled by God to sin and carry out a crime”? Unless you believe that Jesus was talking of Judas, of the NT who many “believers” would call “the least on earth”, when he said “the least on earth” will be the “greatest in heaven”. At least one non-canonical Christian gospel made that very point, that Judas was a hero, an inevitable necessity, a suffering servant, who would be made great in heaven.

    The plain and unmistakable narrative is of a righteous man who lived before this chapter was written. A righteous man who was despised, pitied, and abandoned. A man who courageously suffered, yet whose faith was unshakeable. And he was rewarded in his life (before his death, not just afterwards in heaven). Some would say that that man was the Prophet Jeremiah who lived at that time. All the struggles, sorrow, disappointment , and affliction in the whole chapter fits his life. The words may have been spoken as a eulogy after his death. He had suffered so much by the sins of his people.

    Based on 2nd Chronicles 35, some scholars believe this chapter was written by Jeremiah after the death of King Josiah at Megiddo. But verse 10 to the end wouldn’t apply to him. But, more likely, the chapter might not be referencing any particular person, but instead it might be a poem to comfort the people, teaching them the same things contained in the book of Job showing that the righteous person should not despair because of their affliction, degradation, and suffering experienced in their exile at that time. In the near future, the people would triumph and they, like Job, would be “paid double for their trouble”. Reminds us of Malachi 3 and several of the Psalms.

    In fact, the chapter could be a funeral oration given at the death Job. Some scholars say every word in Isaiah 53 applies exactly to Job. There supposedly are several mentions of this in the Talmud: Job lived in the time of Daniel and Ezekiel; Job was one of the men who returned from the Babylonian captivity; and this was the time Isaiah 53 was written.

    Some say that it was a public speech given at the funeral of “the royal sire of Zerubabel, King Jehoiachin or Jekoniah”, whose life is mirrored (or recorded) in the “entire chapter from beginning to end”. Made a King of Judah as a boy, but soon the country was overrun and Jerusalem was threatened with destruction, so “he laid down his crown”, “delivered himself up to the enemy without a murmur”, “dragged like a sheep to the slaughter-pen”, went into captivity, “left his family sepulcher to the wicked invaders”, and his “castle/high place” to his rich brother and successor. A prisoner, despised, shunned, disgraced and “sick on account of his people’s sins”,etc. until he was taken out of prison and “bestowed with the highest honors”. Zerubabel returned to Israel and so that king did see “seed & length of days.” And on to the end. A funeral oration for a king? Or, was all of “Deutero-Isaiah” (Chap 40 – 66) written by King Jehoiachin, as Abraham Ibn Ezra had written?

    There are a few other scholarly opinions & interpretations of Isaiah 53 and most are more sensible or more likely to be true and historical than the typical or traditionally conservative Christian speculation. That typical interpretation mainly requires circular logic (i.e., you have to believe the gospel story is true in order to accept their interpretation of Chap 53 as proof that the gospel story and their interpretation is true or valid). It is almost impossible to prove that any such person as the Jesus of the NT ever existed. And if the NT Jesus was somewhat based on some historical personage, it would then be almost impossible to determine what he actually did or said versus what his biographers and/or later editors invented (or what they rewrote or what they discarded).

  2. Concerned Reader says:

    Yedidiah, circular reasoning is exactly the method used in writing the gospels, because of their genre. They are purported biographies of Jesus. These writers had heard oral stories about Jesus from previous followers that they wrote down, filling in all the gaps with biblical themes, “typology,” and Shadows from Torah. The literary genre itself assumes that the writer is plugging his particular view of Jesus into the bible, and using vague allusion to prophetic themes, retroactively saying, “he fulfills the prophecies.”

    We see dead sea sectarians do this with the teacher of righteousness, philo tries to call the roman emperor a messiah by scriptural wrenching, etc. it’s a known theme in the known literatures of the day. It’s wrong, but not an unknown style of writing in the period.

    • Yedidiah says:

      Depends upon what type of circle. I see much of the NT writings,especially the gospels, as branches on a tree; separating and diverging. Is that “the Way”? In some cases, out right contradicting what they knew others wrote and others said. “Filling in the gaps” with much outside of Torah. Or, as we see in much of the Gnostic Christian writing, it was more like “just plain making stuff up” and presenting it as “The Truth”, claiming revelation or claiming “secret teachings from Jesus”. When a difficulty with the text arose or if a criticism arose from outside or from within the Church, fill in the gaps. What did Mary think? Oh, look, here is a “Gospel of Mary”? Why didn’t the Romans in Rome know about Jesus? Oh look, here is a “Gospel of Pilate” and a letter of Pilate to the Senate. Who were these “brothers of the Lord”? What did Jesus do for much of 30 years? Well, all of a sudden someone has a gospel of James. And James & Jose are cousins of Jesus, or else siblings from the first marriage of widower Josepher. And Jesus was such a devilish prankster who just couldn’t wait to use “his powers”. Invention and reinvention. Heretics who just didn’t hear the right oral stories or heretics who didn’t fill in the right gaps or heretics who misunderstood the secret teachings from Jesus or herrtics who just didn’t have the right backing from the right bishops and the gospel or version of the gospel didn’t get canonized?

  3. Yedidiah says:

    And you do know that my use of the term “circular logic” is not how you used the phrase circular reasoning? Or are you trying to “branch off” and obfuscate along with typical apologetic jargon? Did “simple folk” adhere to the acceptable literary genre of their times? Did they know about gaps in a story that they never heard of before? And why were they adding in biblical themes, vague allusions, and molding the story to “types & shadows”? I don’t believe these writers were simple folk simply relating the oral history they heard (because they knew the oral history was corrupt or the stories would fade away & soon be forgotten?). A skilled writer (or writers or later skilled editors) is what one might expect when they look critically at the gospel of Mark and a couple of “Paul’s” letters. The great difference between the theology of Mark and that of John is not what one who reasonably suspect from authors who seen or heard about the same man or who read the same bible.

  4. Concerned Reader says:

    I’m not obfuscating or making attempts at using apologetic jargon, i don’t believe in the gospel claims or accounts. I was saying, christians already believed many things about Jesus, had questions about him, and they wrote what they already thought, in the name of “prophecy,” in many ways expanding, philosophizing, editing, etc. along the way as their communities grew. I think those books evolved with their settings, as new converts came Along, time passed etc. The gnostic literature is in many ways the prime example of the syncretism of Christianity and various forms of Hellenistic myth and philosophy for instance. Jesus in those sources is the philosopher, the mystic from the pleroma, etc. because that’s what was popular in Rome.

    When I say that gospel writers employed a specific genre, I say this only as a means of describing the modern analysis of the texts, using terms and catagories set by modern scholars, to signify the precedents we see in literary types and themes in gospels that we also see in ancient literatures of many other cultures. I’m not claiming that the authors of the gospels themselves thought they were writing in a specific genre.

    I’m merely saying, The ancients wrote myth, and they knew it was poetic and mythical, that I do believe. Myth wasn’t seen as malicious falsehood in the minds of the ancients, it was the best way they had to convey information, in cultures with low literacy. Prophecy, myth, dream, and prose, was to them the best mode of expression of truths, even if the details didn’t match up in the sources. Different communities had different needs, so we see (as you said,) 100s of gospels to answer all the logical holes,questions, inconsistencies etc.

    Think of literature like aesop’s fables. It invokes gods, prophecy, myth, etc. but it’s main goal is for teaching everyday people’s in everyday situations. We may never know what the original intent of the authors of the gospels were, but we know that their writings share themes with Jewish, Roman, and other period literature, and I don’t think that’s accidental, that’s what I’m saying.

    • Yedidiah says:

      I knew what you meant by using such terms as “literary genre”, etc., but others may have felt that you were claiming that the writers were quite conscious of their writing, their art, and that they were indeed writing myth or fictionalized biography or even fantasy, satire, or propaganda. I was offering a cautious note to be aware of the danger of an “less than critical” analysis and to avoid the trap of “academic myopia” and viewing “ancients” with a modern bias that may be largely shaped by the long history of myth-making, redaction & editing of texts, apologetics, and at times, “practically a re-writing” of Biblical texts by individual or by teams of Christian translators. Today we are still subjectively “filling in the gaps”, creating new “myths”, expanding the meaning of the texts, and assuming as factual and historical that which we lack evidence of. Sometimes what the majority of scholars assert as fact, may really be based on assumptions and pre-suppositions.

      It is refreshing to hear that one can see syncretism in Christianity and “various forms of Hellenistic myth and philosophy” and the likely possibility that text could be shaped by what was “popular in Rome” or in Alexandria or in Syria and the “east”. Perhaps the political and economic reality of the times played some part (maybe quite a large part) in the birth and the evolution over time of the diverse theology found within the texts.

      Obfuscation is not necessarily an intentional act, either then or now in apologetics. And even if it were, it does not follow that this was a “malicious falsehood in the minds of the ancients” nor an attempt by “moderns” to deceive. Now writings of the early church fathers (and even some verses written by NT authors or editors) show that they were quite aware of what they wrote and quite aware of what others wrote, especially what the “heretics” wrote (although most heretics most likely sincerely wrote what they “knew” to be the facts about their beloved Christ or Jesus). In their own time, they were aware of those seen as “Christ hustlers” (as in the Didache) or those exposed as false prophets or prophetesses. But also we read about a “riot” in Alexandria, because a few of their favorite words of God were translated differently by Jerome. Jerome justified his “corrections” by saying that the original Greek copyists did their work more often “asleep than awake”, plus why shouldn’t he change the text to be “more suitable for Christians”. Reminds me of when the Revised Standard Version of the Bible came out with a very few words more correctly translated from the Hebrew than was traditionally done & many people were so terribly upset, that some pastors declared it “the devil’s bible”, and at least one even attempted to burn it upon the church altar and another used it for target practice at a rifle range. So it is easy to understand why some Christians “would rather fight” than accept the plain words and a reasonable & more accurate interpretation of Isaiah 52-53.

      I doubt the early Christian writers seen their writings as mythical or merely conveying “information, in cultures with low literacy” in an understandable way. Few would see it as “teaching everyday people’s in everyday situations”. If so, why tell “truths” as tales and new myths? Why is the old myth used to create and/or justify new myth which partially is used to diminish or destroy the “old myths”? Should we accept tales & myth as factual events and history?

      So they were writing myth and we don’t really know what they believed, you say. And, you “don’t believe in the gospel claims or accounts”? I think I know what you mean, but we could take it differently. About 1900 years, either Jews & non-Jews did not hear the man that others made claims about or they found no good reason to accept the myth created by others. Sometimes I try to place people’s opinions on a scale with more famous thinkers or writers. So, if one is talking about myth, are they closer to Joseph Campbell or to Karen Armstrong or Robert M Price (an atheist who sometimes attends Church because he likes the rituals & the mystic or the mythic)? And if one brings up “the Dead Sea cult”, do they have a concept of a “pre-Jesus Jesus”, and how close or how far are they from someone with some unusual claims like Eisenman? On the gospel claims, are they closer to WL Craig or to NT Wright or to Crossan and the recently deceased Borg? In the debate about a mythical Jesus between Ehrman and Carrier, who has the more acceptable stance?

  5. rambo2016 says:

    ” i don’t believe in the gospel claims or accounts.”

    if a child is “born in sin” then who made it born in sin? if a god is imputing the childs future sins on the new born child, then god is guilty for imputing sin on innocent child.

    if a god can put ALL years of sins on jesus, then how is it that INFANT is sinner and jesus isn’t ?

    a god can judge infant based on what it will do even though infant in its infant state didn’t do jack.
    jesus gets sin from all years poured over him and cry out “my father, why have you forsaken me” yet jesus isn’t a sinner and the new born is?

  6. Concerned Reader says:

    A child isn’t born in sin Rambo, it’s born pure just like the first people were created pure according to the Jewish bible. The verse that says “In sin my mother did bear me” need not, and is not a transgression imputed to a child in Judaism. According to some sources I’ve read, Cain and Abel were born at the same time, (twins) each with potential to be good, but only one was truly good and righteous. Ruth was a righteous convert although she was born from a people with an unrighteous heritage.

    The hebrew bible says a person’s sins are their own, and everyone needs to self improve, so Jesus’ death can’t blot out anyone’s sins, especially if people keep doing the same sinful behaviors. This is true even in a traditional historic orthodox christian context.

    • rambo2016 says:

      It is the jw’s who knock on ones door and say that “the child IS born in sin”

      for this reason, i wrote:

      if a child is “born in sin” then who made it born in sin? if a god is imputing the childs future sins on the new born child, then god is guilty for imputing sin on innocent child.

      if a god can put ALL years of sins on jesus, then how is it that INFANT is sinner and jesus isn’t ?

      a god can judge infant based on what it will do even though infant in its infant state didn’t do jack.
      jesus gets sin from all years poured over him and cry out “my father, why have you forsaken me” yet jesus isn’t a sinner and the new born is?

    • rambo2016 says:

      just imagine if all sins were imputed on baby jesus, wouldn’t baby jesus be a sinner?

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