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

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Mon May 24 23:10:16 EDT 2004

Dear Liz,

>  >> 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.
>The difficulty with your proposal here is that the speaker says:
>Hen, Behold, Look!, See! The addressee is right there, right in front
>of the speaker. This is not some Davidic king of the far-off future,
>this is the hear and now.

HH: But I believe that the Servant passages 
describe the coming Messiah. There are quite a 
number of these passages, and some short texts 
may belong to this grouping despite lacking the 
word "servant" (e.g., Isa 48:16). Some of these 
passages have the Servant speak in the first 
person. In other places the Lord addresses the 
Servant as present. Yet I believe he is a figure 
of prophecy.

>  >> HH: A second possibility for Isaiah 55:5 might be that the second
>>  person masculine singular addressee is the nation Israel.
>What would the point of that be? That a nation that Israel doesn't
>know comes running to it? This is royal imagery, as we see
>in the psalm.

HH: Well, if israel were the ruling nation, then 
this would seem to be a meaningful assertion:

Deut. 28:1 ¶ If you fully obey the LORD your God 
and carefully follow all his commands I give you 
today, the LORD your God will set you high above 
all the nations on earth.
Deut. 28:13 The LORD will make you the head, not 
the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of 
the LORD your God that I give you this day and 
carefully follow them, you will always be at the 
top, never at the bottom

HH: And this is a theme in Isaiah:

Is. 14:2 Nations will take them and bring them to 
their own place. And the house of Israel will 
possess the nations as menservants and 
maidservants in the LORD's land. They will make 
captives of their captors and rule over their 

Is. 49:23 Kings will be your foster fathers, and 
their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow 
down before you with their faces to the ground; 
they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you 
will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in 
me will not be disappointed."

Is. 60:3 Nations will come to your light, and 
kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Is. 60:10  "Foreigners will rebuild your walls, 
and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I 
struck you, in favor I will show you compassion.

Is. 60:11 Your gates will always stand open, they 
will never be shut, day or night, so that men may 
bring you the wealth of the nations - their kings 
led in triumphal procession.

Is. 60:16 You will drink the milk of nations and 
be nursed at royal breasts. Then you will know 
that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, 
the Mighty One of Jacob.

Is. 62:2 The nations will see your righteousness, 
and all kings your glory; you will be called by a 
new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.

HH: In my opinion it is not that good to identify 
the Servant with Cyrus, although there are many 
similarities that the reader is to notice. There 
are differences between them. This is a passage 
from my dissertation:

Yet the two figures are distinguishable, for 
Cyrus is from a far country (Isa 41:1-3; 45:1-3; 
454:13; 46:11) while the Servant is identified 
with Israel (49:1-5). Cyrus is ignorant of God 
(45:4-5), but the Servant is exceptionally close 
to God (50:4). Cyrus appears as a warrior 
(41:2-3, 25; 45:1-2), but the Servant is meek and 
bears suffering (43:2; 49:4, 7; 50:5-6; 52:14; 

					Harold Holmyard

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