singular and plural for Isaiah's servant
lizfried at umich.edu
Fri Jan 19 14:16:19 EST 2001
Dear Dan, et. al.
I'm working on the thorny problem of trying to understand Isaiah 45:1
which identifies Cyrus as YHWH's messiah.
> People of all theologies and backgrounds struggle with the
> identification of
> Isaiah's servant, and go back and forth between singular and corporate
> views. Many or most scholars have now settled into some form of a both/and
> view, whether they describe their ideas as fluid, synthetic, pyramid,
> oscillation, corporate solidarity, or concentric circles.
> 1. Isaiah 49:3 refers to the Servant as clearly a singular individual in
> this context, but calls Him "Israel" (vocative or apposition?) as
> if He were
> in some way equivalent to or representative of the nation.
I snip "Israel" in opposition to most manuscripts. It makes no sense
in the context.
> 2. Isaiah 43:10 is clearly of the nation's individual people, yet is
> significant in its interchange of the plural in MT, "you [2MS] are my
> witnesses" (plural in both MT pointing and LXX) with the singular, "My
> servant whom I have chosen," and back to the indisputable plural "that you
> may know ... believe ... and understand" (2MP for all 3 verbs). Corporate
> Israel was chosen for the purpose of knowing and believing
> Yahweh, something
> foundational to their mission but which many individuals failed to do.
Israel (plural) is witness to the acts of the servant (singular).
The servant is Cyrus who is bringing Israel and Jacob back to YHWH
by permitting them to return to Jerusalem.
Cyrus does this so that Israel (plural) may know and understand and believe
that the covenant with them still holds,is unbroken.
> 3. Isaiah 44:26 shows that the servant (Israel's) ministry
> obligation was to
> get out the true prophetic word (in contrast to the false message
> of v. 25).
> Again note the interchange between plural "messengers" and singular
Messengers are prophets, the servant is Cyrus, see the rest of 44:26.
The word is that Jerusalem will be repopulated, resettled, the temple
> Regardless of one's theology, am i pressing too much on the
> interchange? Any comments?
No, the singular/plural shows who is being addressed
the servant or the people.
> Dan Wagner
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