[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53 read within the book as a whole

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Mon May 24 21:55:45 EDT 2004

Dear Liz,

>  > Doesn't work. 55:1: col, "he" is everyone, every Jew, not a particular
>>  person.
>Right, let him come and eat, and let him hear the good news.
>God is cutting with all of them (all of you) an eternal covenant.
>That covenant is the faithful loyalty of David (for David??).
>See! (see the covenant is being cut right now here before you)
>I have made him (Cyrus) a witness to the peoples, a leader and
>commander to the peoples.
>(Now the speaker turns to Cyrus):
>Behold you will call a nation that you do not know,
>a nation that does not know you will come running to you. etc.
>The nation that does not know you (i.e., Cyrus) is Israel.
>Then in vs. 6 the speech is to the crowd again.
>Compare this poem to Psalm 18:43-45. That is with regard to the
>Davidic king. Nations that do not know him will come cringing
>to him. THis is the same sort of thing as in Isaiah 55, but now
>it is Cyrus. This is the thrust of my Cyrus the Messiah paper.
>Isaiah gave the titulary (messiah, servant, etc.) and the entire
>mythology which formerly belonged to the Davidic heir over
>to Cyrus.

HH: The general context of Isaiah shows that Isa 55:12-13 concerns 
Israel (Isa 35:2, 10; 51:3, 11; 52:9; 60:15, and many other verses). 
Isaiah 55:7 is evidently directed at Israelites because the Lord 
calls them to return to the Lord in repentance. The singular in verse 
7 is essentially the same addressee as the plural persons in 55:6 and 
is an individualization of the plural concept there. So 55:6 is also 
directed to Israel. Isaiah 55:1 is part of the same general appeal, 
and the individualization in verse 1 is like that in verse 7. The 
plural in 55:2 is like the plural in 55:6. The natural audience one 
would expect for the appeal would be Israel, and God in 55:3 seems to 
promise an expansion of the Davidic promises from the house of David 
in particular to the entire nation.

HH: Isaiah 55:4 speaks abstractly of the Davidic king, who was 
originally a witness to the nations of God's power. The word L)MYM 
("people") generally indicates the nations in general in Isaiah. God 
in Isa 55:5 might address the future Davidic king, even though he has 
not yet arisen. I agree with you that the sentiments in isaiah 55:5 
are like those in Psalm 18:43-45 and that the meaning is similar. But 
I think that while it may seem logical to apply Isaiah 55:5 to Cyrus, 
it does not work. God made an eternal covenant with the house of 
David. Cyrus was not in the house of David. To turn the Davidic 
promises over to Cyrus in any permanent way would break God's promise 
to the house of David.

HH: A second possibility for Isaiah 55:5 might be that the second 
person masculine singular addressee is the nation Israel. Yes, the 
nation is addressed as a woman in Isaiah 54, but that is due to the 
figure of speech of a barren wife in chapter 54. In Isaiah 55:5 the 
"you" could be the people of israel as a whole, since the term GWY is 
used, perhaps of others nations in contrast with the nation Israel. 
Just as David had been a witness to the nations of God's power, so 
the whole nation of israel would be a witness to the other nations of 
God's power. God similarly switches to the second masculine singular 
to speak to His people in Isa 3:12. This 2ms usage does not occur in 
the verses before or after Isa 3:12, and it would be the same 
situation here in Isa 55:5.

HH: I'd have to study the passage in detail to go any further, and I 
haven't studied it that way lately.

				Harold Holmyard

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