[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53

unikom at paco.net unikom at paco.net
Fri May 14 03:47:45 EDT 2004


A few days ago, I posted a request for review of the article on Isaiah 53.
Since I did not receive much replies, I realize that probably most
participants are too busy to go through a long article. Therefore, let me
posit here several most relevant questions on the chapter:

1. Verse 1, reference to arm of God
This is uniformly interpreted as some kind of divine revelation on the
hero, a sign of power. However, universal Tanakhic usage of both iad and
zroa, especially with preposition le, denotes crushing power of God, and
is never beneficial to the object of application.

Verse 4, nasa usually translated in the sense of took away or laid on himself
To our knowledge, no other entry in Tanakh justifies such meaning, while
nasa normally means lifted, with the sense took possession of, and in the
case of sin - participated in.

Verse 5, avonot, usually translated as sins
Sins is too broad; avon is specifically a delusion, without connotation of
expiable sin

Verse 5, meholal, usually translated as killed or cut through
However, the word's semantics points to emptied out, which is how this and
related words are employed in Tanakh. This emptying is often contraposed
(like in Ezek32) to killing, thus not the same.

Verse 5, hevrah, usually translated as bruises
To be sure, the word is in singular, as may refer to a single livid spot
at the most. However, bruise (havurah) is grammatically impossible, since
u cannot be short before reish, but must be written with vav. Therefore,
probable reference is not to havurah (bruise), but to haverah, wife of the
youth, a standard metaphor for religious orthodoxy.

Verse 6, ifgia bo, usually translated as laid on him
The word is never translated so anywhere else in Tanakh. Its root refers
to clash, which produced different words from hit to demonstration. Its
semantical meaning is, to clash with something, which is how it is
approximated in Isaiah 59:16 with intercede.
Moreover, preposition bo refers to the sin entering the man, not being
laid on him, which would be denoted with preposition al.

Verse 7, nigas, usually translated as oppressed
Nowhere in Tanakh the word has this meaning.

Verse 8, nega lamo, usually translated as he was punished
The word nega is not punishment, but a disaster. But more importantly,
lamo always refers to a collective (singular form of multitude, such as
nation), never to a person.

Verse 9, waiten, usually translated as was given or they gave
The only two grammatically possible readings are, you (sing.masc.) gave,
or he gave

Verse 9, bemotaw, usually translated in his death
However, the word is in plural, and thus may be interpreted only as the
reference to his altars

Verse 10, tasim, usually translated as you made [his life an offering for
The word tasim means lay or bring, and is in future tense sing. either
second-person masc, or third-person fem. A word nafsho (his soul), fem.,
is perfectly relevant, thus, if his sould had brought an offering for his
sin. In order to have something done to his soul, other interpreters have
to presuppose a masc. object, such as the nation, who did this harm to the
soul. However, nation is not mentioned anywhere close, and cannot be the

Verse 11, meamal nafsho, usually translated out of his anguish
The plain meaning is, from the work of his soul, that is, in the result of
his repentance

Verse 11, izdak zadik larabim, usually translated, the righteous one shall
make many righteous
This translation is made impossible by the preposition le: for or before
many, thus justified the righteous before multitude (obviously, Jews
before gentiles)

Verse 12, lapsheim ifgia, usually translated as interceded for criminals
Interceded is always encountered in Tanakh with preposition be, meaning
before someone, and with a clear definition of the goal of intercession,
such as not to burn the scroll. Preposition le, when employed with ifgia,
means attached to. Therefore, he was attached to criminals, or, regarded
as one of the criminals.

There is no need to comment that this reading does not leave place for the
Christian messianic interpretation.

I would appreciate any comments or arguments to the contrary. Thank you
for the time you may devote to this issue.

Sincerely yours,

Vadim Cherny

P.S. The article is at http://www.anarcho.net/on_religion/Ieshayahu%2053.htm

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