[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53: in his death?

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Fri May 21 09:08:22 EDT 2004


> Dear Liz,
> >I wouldn't translate 10 this way, rather, "if  you would put
> a ransom on his life...." or "if you would make a ransom of 
> his life."< Possible, but you need to establish Isaiah's 
> usage of impersonal verbs.
> However, implausible, since requires different antecedents in 
> a phrase.
> >Generally I avoid the word "soul" as I don't think souls had
> been invented yet.<
> See Genesis. nefesh and hayim are different.
See the use of nefesh throughout the tanak, it is simply another
way of saying "person". There is no reflexive pronoun in Hebrew
so they used nefesh. Modern hebrew uses bones, I see my bones.
Biblical hebrew like Arabic, uses nephesh.
But the word "soul" is anachronistic.
> >I also prefer "ransom" to guilt offering (1 Sam 6).<
> Possible, but the man's guilt is discussed earlier - he 
> lifted, shared the avonot.
I think that to nasah avon does not mean to be guilty. It is
a technical t erm used throughout Leviticus. Milgrom has
written on the term. It means to take responsibility, but it
doesn't imply guilt. The High Priest nasa' 'avon of the congregation.
That shouldn't be translated "bears the guilt of", but rather
"bears the responsibility of," the congregation, "takes responsibility
for the congragion." Milgrom has
written a whole article on this somewhere. Maybe it was just
a chapter in his dissertation. I highly recommend it.
> >There were no Egyptian judges in Egypt in the Persian 
> period, they were 
> >all
> foreign.<
> You're reading the modern stateship into the ancient life. 
> State judges handled the issues, which were not resolved by 
> the community judges.  At least, this was the practice from 
> the beginning of the era or so. No reason to doubt applying 
> it retrospectively.
I don't know what you mean by Modern. I'm talking about the
Persian period, which is the period of Isaiah 53. During the
Persian period there were royal judges in Egypt which were
appointed by the Persian king (or his agent) in Susa. Then
there were provincial judges appointed by the Persian satrap.
All the judges were Persian. There were no Egyptian judges,
no local judges. This was also true in Babylon. After the Persian
conquest, local Babylonian judges were replaced by Persian ones.
Read the archives -- or my book. There were no local courts.
All courts were Persian courts, this is how the Persians enforced
their rule.
I should have discussed more of Isaiah in my book, I missed an
opportunity. I only stick in my article on Cyrus the Messiah.
I think it is worthwhile to remember tho that it is Cyrus who is
the Messiah in the book of Isaiah, not the servant.
Everyone conveniently forgets that in their effor to see Jesus
as the servant. That is what happens when passages are read
out of the context of the entire book. The key to the book is to
remember that Cyrus is the Messiah, no one else is called that
in the entire book. Cyrus is the Messiah because he fulfills the
Messianic role : he rebulds the temple and returns the Jews to
their land.

Lisbeth S. Fried, Ph. D.
Visiting Scholar
Department of Near Eastern Studies
University of Michigan
2068 Frieze Bldg.
105 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, Michigan  48109-1285 

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