singular and plural for Isaiah's servant
lizfried at umich.edu
Fri Jan 19 18:26:31 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.
> > >
> > > Most??
> > 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.
> > Sigh.
> > No textual basis whatsoever, actually.
> > Also, if
> > > 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
> > > contextual
> > > sense with my theological take on it!). That's a standard rule for
> > > intentional scribal variants, and it's hard to imagine a scribe
> > > accidentally
> > > (or intentionally) inserting "Israel" in this context.
> > I think it was inserted by Trito-Isaiah, before the book was
> > finalized.
> OK, i did not catch on that you were basing your decision uniquely on
> speculation rather than the textual evidence.
Uniquely on speculation, no textual basis.
That was my
> misunderstanding/mistake, though of course i think the
> speculation is yours!
Nope, not mine alone.
Not my idea, even.
> [Why would your "Trito-Isaiah" insert it, anyway?]
I think he inserted the Davidic references in chapter 11.
as a back-lash against the failure of the Persian emperors to
live up to expectation.
> > > > > 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.
> Oops, my blunder. Thanks for catching that.
That's what friends are for.
> > 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...
> By your supplied "[is]" do you mean to indicate: "My servant ...
> *exists* so
> that ..."? That seems a strange way to deal with this syntax to me.
You have to realize that the line breaks are supplied by Kittel,
and the verse numbers are also late.
Try putting the half-verse starting with My servant on a separate line.
Then see how it looks to you.
It was interesting when I was reading the dead sea scrolls. It changed
my life. There were no line breaks, no punctuation, no word breaks often.
I came to rely on the vov's to indicate the beginning
of a new sentence.
> > 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.
> Just a side note here: There is a distinct break in the use of "servant"
> from 40-53 and from 54-66. In the latter section, it is 100% used in the
> plural of the faithful remnant individuals in Israel; whereas in
> the former
> section, it is always in the singular and alternates back and
> forth between
> individual/collective identifications (the part we are
> discussing). I think
> this is signifant to keep in mind regarding the division point(s) of the
> books and the progession of the "servant concept" in the entire section of
I see 55:4 "him" as a reference to the servant (Cyrus, of course).
The plural/singular interchange is very interesting there, in 55:3-5.
I see 61 as written by Deutero-Isaiah, and to be the servant (ie. Cyrus)
> > 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.
> I just can't see dividing up the Servant Songs like that. I think there is
> much to be said for their unity... I guess i won't go there now though.
Probably there's enough to worry about.
> > 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.
> > Liz
> I think the singular/plural interchanges (excepting that one; i
> still stand
> by two of them) must be telling us something about the
> identification of the
> servant, and is perhaps the key to deciphering the long-standing debate as
> to whether it's singular or "corporate" (whatever term is fine, but it
> clearly references the nation or else the plurality of the people in those
> several contexts i listed). I think a "both/and" view works well on the
> levels both of macro-analysis (the big picture, comparison of all contexts
> [and the NT!]) and micro-analysis (the singular/plural interchanges). But
> thanks for your input, especially catching that mistake.
I'd be happy to look at each occurrence with you.
> Dan Wagner
More information about the b-hebrew