"The presence of anti-Pauline texts in [Matthew's] Gospel, point inevitably towards the conclusion that the evangelist himself [sic: really Jesus] was anti-Pauline." D.C. Sim [2002:780]

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Isaiah 53:8 - The Servant is Supposedly A Plural, and Not An Individual

1. T's Contention

Dear Doug

In Isaiah 53:8, the Hebrew word lamo is translated

THEM.

So the servant is PLURAL, a group of people.

The Israeli people. 

The Hebrew word lamo is in the following references and is translated THEM:

Isaiah 16:4

Isaiah 23:7

Isaiah 26:14

Isaiah 26:16

Isaiah 30:5

Isaiah 35:8

Isaiah 43:8

Isaiah 48:29

Genesis 9: 26 and 27

Proverbs 23:20

Habakkuk 2:7

Psalm 99:7

Psalm 44:3

Psalm 2:4 God mocked lamo. God mocked THEM

Psalm 119:165

Deut 33:2

Lamentations 1:19 and 22

lamentations 4:10 and 15

Job 22:17

Psalm 66:7

Psalm 73:6 and 10 and 18

Psalm 28:8

Psalm 88:8

30 examples where the Hebrew lamo is translated  THEM.

So Isaiah 53:8 the Hebrew word lamo is also translated THEM.

Therefore, the servant is PLURAL, a group of people. The Israeli people.


My Reply to T, April 5, 2015

The "he" who suffers in Isaiah 58:8 is a person, not the people of Israel, for he is struck for "my people," not for his deeds.

Isaiah 53:8 reads in the Dead Sea Scrolls – from 250 BC – long before Christianity, and were translated by non-believers in Christianity – Abegg, Flint & Alrich, in the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (1999) at page 360 as:

“From the detention and judgment he was taken away, and who can even think about his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living, he was stricken for the transgression of my people.”

You keep saying there is a “them” in here, but not in the Dead Sea Scroll version.

Some websites endorse your view, claiming it exists at a certain point of the bolded text. It is there in the Jewish Publication Society due to a change which the Masoretes made in the 800s – removing “he was stricken” which then required adding “to them” to smooth out the resulting sentence. Even so, it still did not change the meaning, as we shall see.

More important, there are three verbs in verse 8 – each are singular referring to he:

“he was taken” luqqah

“he was cut off” nigzar

“he was stricken” nega

The Masoretes in the 800 AD period (who are not Christians but scribes of Judaism), played around with Isaiah 53 just a little, and did not copy “he was stricken.”

Abegg Flint in footnote 1171 say that Judaism’s official Masoretic text from the 800s has “he was stricken” replaced by “affliction.” Regardless, this was the only one of the 3 “he” subject verbs erased in verse 8, and the essential meaning is not significantly lost.

So the Jewish Publication Society version of this passage usually would reflect the Masoretic text from the 800s. Indeed it does reflect “he was stricken” is removed – just one of the 3 “he” subject verbs in verse 8.

53:8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation who did reason? for he was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due. http://theology101.org/bib/jps/isa053.htm#008

I have seen some Muslims translate this without including “was due,” leaving the sentence incomprehensible: “From my people’s sin, there was injury to them.” From this, the argument is made the servant who suffers here is Israel. But it is incomprehensible with this change, and does not signify the "he" who suffers is the "them" who have an "injury to them." Regardless, the JPS has the missing "was due" that these Muslim sites remove. I don’t know what can justify removing “was due.”

Regardless, the point is that the JPS at least retains the sense of a stroke that was “due” for the “transgression of my people.” The Jewish version from the 800s at least retains the essential point that Christians see in this passage – the stroke was due to the sin of God’s people. So any translation that removes the words that signified the “stroke” was due “to them” – my people – is at least at odds with  the Jewish Publication Society version which first introduced “lomoh” into verse 8. The words "to them" upon which your agument relies.

Furthermore, the version of 53:8 with the "to them" (lomoh) is at direct odds with the Dead Sea Scrolls from the 250 BC era which more correctly says: “he was stricken for the transgression of my people.” The DSS never had the “lomoh” which only came about in the 800s when the Masoretes deleted “he was struck” which then needed a prepositional-direct object adjustment which “lomoh” provided.

Hence, I suggest that you compare translations that you rely upon against Jewish translations in the JPS who have no reason to provide translations helpful to Christians. I also suggest you compare the translation of Isaiah upon which you rely against the Dead Sea Scrolls from 250 BC. Neither have any motivation to confirm Christians, but both their translations in fact do so.

Doug