Isa. 42:3

Liz Fried lizfried at
Sun Dec 17 17:08:43 EST 2000

Dear John,
Thank you for your comments, I appreciate them.
And any other comments too!
I have printed them out.
I will respond in my paper, which is wending its way toward completion.
Sorry for the delay,
and I thank you for your patience.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Ronning [mailto:ronning at]
> Sent: Sunday, December 17, 2000 4:01 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Isa. 42:3
> Liz Fried wrote:
> ------
> > I think Cyrus
> > is the Servant in 42 and 49 -- and 61.
> ....
> >
> > I argue Isa. 42:3 also refers to Cyrus.
> >
> > Cyrus executes justice quietly and calmly, but effectively
> (42:2-4). This
> > was evidently his reputation. I quote Herodotus:
> > 
The Persians have a saying that Darius was a shopkeeper,
> Cambyses a master
> > of slaves, and Cyrus a father.  What they mean is that Darius kept petty
> > accounts for everything, that Cambyses was hard and
> contemptuous, and that
> > Cyrus was gentle and contrived everything for their good. (III: 89).
> >
> I see now why you wanted to read berith `am in 42:6 as
> "covenant people," which is not Hebrew (in Hebrew covenant
> people would be `am berith - reminds me of the cult that
> thinks anglo saxons are the lost tribes of Israel based on
> reading British as "covenant man").
> The view that Cyrus is the servant in 42:1ff suffers from
> numerous impossibilities and improbabilities.  Obvious clues
> point to identifiying him as the Messiah son of David:
> 42:1 I have put my Spirit upon him.
> 11:1 The Spirit of YHWH shall rest upon him (similarly 61:1
> [the Spirit of the Lord YHWH is upon me] points to the
> Messiah son of David, not Cyrus)
> 42:1 he will bring forth justice (mishpa+) to the nations/v.
> 3 in faithfulness he will forth justice
> 11:3-4 in righteousness he will judge the poor, not by the
> appearance of his eyes he will judge
> 9:6/7 on the throne of David ... to establish it in justice
> and righteousness
> In addition, mishpa+ can be a judicial verdict, which fits
> the preceeding context where the Lord summons his people to
> a trial where the idols are required to furnish evidence
> that they are real - he calls on them to furnish evidence
> that they have predicted the future as he has (exhibit A,
> the coming of Cyrus [41:25]).  The mishpa+ of this trial is
> that YHWH is the only true God, and the Servant is to bring
> forth this verdict to the nations.  Cyrus himself (an
> enthusiastic idolator) is the last person on earth to bring
> forth such a verdict.  Indeed how could 41:24, "He who
> chooses you (the idols) is an abomination" be followed by a
> statement that the Lord's soul delights in Cyrus the
> promoter of all of the gods?  Note how "behold, my Servant"
> follows "Behold, all of them [the idols] are false [41:29].
> The relationship between Cyrus and the Servant is one of
> typology, not identity, as is clear from the former
> things/new things contrast in 42:9.  This contrast shows up
> two other places.  In 43:18 the Lord says to forget the old
> things (he has just described the passing through the Red
> Sea), because he is going to do new things (the return from
> exile) - one of many places where he return from exile is
> depicted as a new exodus.  In 48:3 he says I foretold the
> former things (the restoration from exile) long ago (lest
> you should say my idol did it), then in v. 6 From now on I
> tell you new things.  Just as the restoration from exile is
> "new" compared to the exodus, so the work of the Servant is
> "new" compared to the work of Cyrus, which obviously shows
> that the servant is not Cyrus.  (Similarly in 42:9).
> I'll pass on chapter 49 for now but siffice it to say your
> argument is just as impossible there.
> > The Christian authors allegorize everything. The Servant in
> Isaiah is not
> > allegorical but political, actual, present.
> Interesting concept of allegory you have.  I remember
> reading the fourth servant song to an unbeliever and asking
> him where he thought it came from.  "The New Testament" was
> his immediate reply.  Maybe you could identify which of the
> following is allegorical (and why it should be considered
> allegorical):
> 50:6 "I gave my back to those who strike me / my cheeks to
> those who pluck out the beard / I did not cover my face from
> humiliation and spitting"
> Allegorized (?) as "They spat in his face and beat him with
> their fists; others slapped him" (Matt 26:67) They spat on
> him and took the reed and began to beat him on the head
> (Matt 27:30)
> 53:5 He was pierced through for our transgressions
> allegorized (?) as he was crucified for our sins?
> 53:8 by oppression and judgement he was taken away is
> allegorized (?) as a judicial sentence of death on a man
> known to be innocent?
> 53:9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet he was with
> a rich man in his death  allegorized (?) as Jesus being
> buried in a rich man's tomb, saved from a criminals common
> grave?
> 53:10 he will prolong days and perform the Lord's good
> pleasure (after being put to death) is allegorized (?) as
> the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
> etc. etc.
> On the other hand we should believe that you are engaging in
> sober exegesis, not allegory, to say that Cyrus is the one
> who says "[God] said to me, You are my servant Israel, in
> whom I shall show my glory" (49:3).
> > The use of the hen, behold, in 42:1 and everywhere else in the OT
> > is used to intruduce the present tense.
> ...
> > The word means, right now, here, in the narrative present of the writer
> > is the  Servant. He exists in the time of Deutero-Isaiah, in the time
> > of Cyrus the Great. Indeed, he is Cyrus the Great.
> You give the impression that you've actually studied the use
> of hinneh/hen.  If you had, you should have noted that
> "behold" often introduces the future, and of course in
> prophecy that can be any future, including the end of the
> world.  E.g. Isa 24:1; 26:21, 65:17; 66:15.
> > I would like to vet the paper and obtain reactions if possible.
> > It was very well received at SBL.
> Says something about SBL, doesn't it.  The hermeneutic for
> identifying the servant is "anybody but Jesus of Nazareth."
> Regards,
> John Ronning
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