singular and plural for Isaiah's servant
lizfried at umich.edu
Fri Jan 19 17:08:48 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.
> Thanks for your imput--i'm glad to have it to think through, although i
> don't agree...
My feelings exactly! ;)
> > > 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.
Ah, well, according to BHS, one manuscript omits it.
Majority of MT alone is not necessarily impressive. It's in LXX,
> 1QISAa, and of course some MT MSS, so i would have to make a preliminary
> conclusion that you don't have good basis for this.
No textual basis whatsoever, actually.
> it is difficult to make contextual sense (which i accept, on the surface),
> then it would typically be more likely to have been original and been
> intentially overlooked by the scribe (althogh it makes wonderful
> sense with my theological take on it!). That's a standard rule for
> intentional scribal variants, and it's hard to imagine a scribe
> (or intentionally) inserting "Israel" in this context.
I think it was inserted by Trito-Isaiah, before the book was finalized.
3rd-I doesn't like Cyrus being called the Servant, Messiah, etc.
But it makes no sense, without a great deal of juggling, to
have Israel bring Israel back.
> > >
> > > 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]
No, this is atem, you, masc. plural.
> > > 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).
> But it says "you (singular) are my witnesses (plural)."
NO, you *plural* atem.
So your analysis
> does not go to the level of the text i'm presenting here. Then this
> "you/witnesses" is further defined as "even My servant..."
No, you (plural) are my witnesses. My servant whom I have chosen
[is] so that you may know and and believe me, and understand
that I am he...
But, I admit your reading is possible as well.
There are many situations in Isaiah in which Israel is called servant.
But I don't buy the "corporate Israel" stuff. When a single person
is spoken of (in chapters 40-49), it is Cyrus, imo.
It is also Cyrus in 55 & 61.
I think 50:4-9 is the prophet who follows the voice of the servant
in 50:10. I think 52:13 goes with 52:1-12, not with the following
and refers to Cyrus.
52:13ff refers to the prophet.
Them's my thoughts at the moment.
Feel free to dash them to bits.
I'm expanding a paper I gave at SBL.
I got side-tracked for a while,
but am back to it.
> > The servant is Cyrus who is bringing Israel and Jacob back to YHWH
> > by permitting them to return to Jerusalem.
> In this context, the servant refers to the people. This is also consistent
> with the many other references identifying the nation/people with the
> servant (41:8-9; 43:10; 44:1, 2, 21, 26; 45:4; 48:20).
> > Cyrus does this so that Israel (plural) may know and
> > understand and believe
> I'd prefer to take the servant as the people and translate "and my servant
> whom i have chosen in such a way that [_LM(N_] you [i.e., the
> servant-people] might know 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
> > > "servant."
> > Messengers are prophets, the servant is Cyrus,
> In this context it's parallelism, is it not? So,
> "confirms" = "performs"
> "the word of" = "the counsel of"
> "His servant" = "His messengers"
> right? Thus, it looks to me like an unambiguous example of synonymous
> > see the rest of 44:26.
> > The word is that Jerusalem will be repopulated, resettled, the temple
> > rebuilt.
> Yes, but the antecedent to "who" of "who says to Jerusalem, 'You shall be
> inhabited...'" is not the servant (i.e., not your "Cyrus") in this verse,
> but Yahweh back from v. 24 (as is true for the supplied "who" of the MS
> participle throughout vv. 24-26).
> Dan Wagner
> > >
> > > Regardless of one's theology, am i pressing too much on the
> > > singular/plural
> > > interchange? Any comments?
> > No, the singular/plural shows who is being addressed
> > the servant or the people.
> > liz
> > >
> > > Dan Wagner
> > >
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