Isa. 42:3-4

Liz Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Tue Dec 19 18:12:35 EST 2000



>
> Liz Fried asks,
> Why are we talking about the NT
> and NT interpretations on BH???
> Is this relevant or appropriate???
> ______________________
>
> I am under the impression that history of interpretation is
> acceptable, and
> there is a lot of history involved in a Messianic interpretation of the
> Servant Songs (Matthew happens to be one of the earliest to apply it to
> Jesus). But my focus is in the Hebrew text of Isaiah, and the
> parallel vocab
> between verse 3 and verse 4 (which is surely significant). The other
> comments are my conclusions based on Isaiah's subsequent logic.

>
> Dan Wagner
It's all well and good what you say,
but you don't practice it.
When you captilize Him and He in reference to the
Servant, I frankly feel like puking.
There you have it.
Liz

>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Liz Fried [mailto:lizfried at umich.edu]
> Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2000 15:05
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: RE: Isa. 42:3-4
>
>
> Why are we talking about the NT
> and NT interpretations on BH???
> Is this relevant or appropriate???
>
> Liz Fried
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Dan Wagner [mailto:Dan.Wagner at datastream.net]
> > Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2000 2:56 PM
> > To: Biblical Hebrew
> > Subject: RE: Isa. 42:3-4
> >
> >
> > Thank you, John Barach, for this helpful post, clarifying and further
> > developing the idea mentioned earlier. This, combined with some other
> > thoughts i'm seeing, mostly in comparison with v. 4, is influencing my
> > thinking on the issue.
> >
> > Here is what i'm now seeing:
> >
> > Verse 3: A "crushed" reed is disappointing in that when resting
> > upon it, it
> > collapses. A "flickering" or "dim" wick is unable to provide the needed
> > light. Jesus lets them be without dealing with them aggressively.
> >
> > Verse 4: The Servant will not, Himself, "flicker out / grow dim" or "be
> > crushed" (same vocab as for the wick & reed!). He will succeed in
> > establishing justice throughout the world.
> >
> > This is not because He assert Himself openly with an overt
> > political agenda
> > (v. 2). Rather, it is because Yahweh's Spirit is upon Him (v. 1), and
> > because this spiritual power of the creator, Yahweh, is sovereign
> > over all,
> > esp. over all individuals (v. 5). If the individuals have their physical
> > life from Yahweh's Spirit (v. 5b still), then it only stands to
> > reason that
> > He is able to give Gentiles spiritual life as well (v. 6). This is by
> > spiritual means, primarily, of opening blind eyes and
> delivering them from
> > the darkness of sin (v. 7). Obviously, Isaiah did not think that all
> > Gentiles were physically blind, so that is not the point.
> >
> > The NT applies this in both regards in various contexts, healing of the
> > physical aspect having its primary purpose to demonstrate Jesus as the
> > Messiah and His spiritual power to heal or open eyes as well.
> His kingdom
> > was/is a spiritual kingdom, at least for now.
> >
> > Dan Wagner
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: John Barach [mailto:jbarach at telusplanet.net]
> > Sent: Friday, December 15, 2000 12:59
> > To: Biblical Hebrew
> > Subject: Re: Isa. 42:3
> >
> >
> > Dan wrote:
> >
> > > The imagery that Jesus is showing mercy to meek/weak/broken
> > > people (not His enemies) seems much more appropriate to both
> > > contexts to me (Isa & Matt).
> >
> > In Isaiah, it may be possible to take the cracked reed to be a weak
> > person and to read the reference to not breaking a cracked reed as
> > litotes: the Servant actually *heals* the cracked reed (Motyer).  But
> > surely one ought to have good reasons for taking this negative statement
> > to be litotes.  All it actually says is that the Servant will spare the
> > cracked reed and the smouldering wick.
> >
> > But are these two metaphors simply arbitrary or is there some
> > significance to them?  Van Bruggen argues that we have to take the *use*
> > of the reed and the wick into account.  The reed is a staff for leaning
> > on -- and a cracked reed (as in Isa. 36:6) -- isn't going to bear your
> > weight.  A smouldering flax doesn't give much light and it's going to go
> > out and leave you in the darkness.  Neither one is good for the purpose
> > it's intended for.
> >
> > Most of us would simply throw out the useless and undependable reed
> > staff and flax wick.  But the Servant won't.  Instead, he spares these
> > things (i.e., people) on whom he can't depend for support or light.
> > That is to say, he won't act violently toward them (break, snuff out).
> >
> > In response to John, yes, there's a comparison/contrast to Cyrus.  Cyrus
> > is going to conquer nations and subdue kings and make them like dust and
> > like chaff (41:2; cf. 41:25).  But the servant will not destroy ... the
> > poor?  That's not an explicit contrast with Cyrus.
> >
> > Rather, the contrast is that the servant will not destroy those who
> > oppose him.  That seems to be the point of Isa. 42:2: the servant does
> > not raise his voice (to make himself heard above others).  It's
> > certainly how Matthew takes it ("He will not quarrel").  And then Van
> > Bruggen's imagery fits the picture: part of his un-Cyrus-like demeanour
> > is that he spares those on whom he can't depend, who let him down, who
> > leave him in the lurch.
> >
> > When Matthew cites this passage he gives a context: Jesus knows that the
> > Pharisees are plotting against him and he withdraws.  He acts as if he's
> > weak.  But he's obviously not weak: many follow and he heals them.  But
> > then he doesn't want publicity.  In other words, he seems to have enough
> > power to deal with the Pharisees, but instead he acts in a weak manner.
> > Then Matthew explains this mysterious and surprisingly un-kinglike
> > behaviour: he withdraws, he heals and doesn't want publicity *in order
> > that* this prophecy from Isaiah might be fulfilled.
> >
> > As far as NT studies are concerned, an explanation of Matthew 12:20 ("He
> > will not break the cracked reed") ought to show how Jesus' withdrawing
> > while the Pharisees plot and Jesus' desire for no publicity is a
> > *fulfillment* of that verse.  Many commentaries seem to see Jesus'
> > withdrawing as a fulfillment of Isa. 42:2 (not quarrelling), but then
> > they go their merry way when it comes to Isa. 42:3 (Matt. 12:20): they
> > make no effort to show how Jesus' retiring demeanour fulfils this part
> > of Isaiah's prophecy.
> >
> > The point, it seems to me, is that if Jesus were indeed the embodiment
> > of the servant of Isaiah 42 (which is the claim Matthew is making), then
> > the Pharisees and the other spiritual guides in Israel ought to have
> > rallied to him and shone the light on him and called Israel to drop
> > their other agendas and follow him.
> >
> > In other words, Jesus ought to have been able to rely on them, but
> > they're like a cracked reed: lean on them for support and you're going
> > to be let down.  They're going to go out like a smouldering flax wick
> > and leave you in the dark.  But (surprise!) Jesus lets them.  And yet
> > through this demeanour, through sparing those who are unworthy of trust,
> > Jesus the Servant will establish justice successfully (eis nikos).
> >
> > Thus Matthew explains Jesus' apparently weak behaviour (although he has
> > so much power to heal) by citing Isaiah's prophecy about the servant who
> > doesn't act like other rulers, who doesn't quarrel or try to win by
> > sheer volume, who doesn't even avenge himself on those who let him down.
> > Instead this servant spares cracked reeds and smouldering wicks; he lets
> > them let him down.  He lets them leave him in the dark.  But in that
> > way, he wins the victory.
> >
> > Regards,
> >
> > John
> >
> >
> > %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
> > John Barach (403) 317-1950
> > Pastor, Trinity Reformed Church (URCNA)
> > 113 Stafford Blvd. N.
> > Lethbridge, AB
> > T1H 6E3
> >
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