The desolation and consolation of Isaiah 53 in the qumran scrolls

In “Where Moshe Shulman is right on Isaiah 53”

I requested a response to the following:

How can the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 be nothing/no one but “Israel”. How can “him” and “us” in Isaiah 53:6 both refer to the same entity.

Isaiah 53:6

כֻּלָּ֙נוּ֙ כַּצֹּ֣אן תָּעִ֔ינוּ אִ֥ישׁ לְדַרְכֹּ֖ו פָּנִ֑ינוּ וַֽיהוָה֙ הִפְגִּ֣יעַ בֹּ֔ו אֵ֖ת עֲוֹ֥ן כֻּלָּֽנוּ׃

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on HIM
the iniquity of US all.

All I would like to know is how “him” and “us” can both refer to “Israel” (the suffering servant).

Moshe Shulman replied: The us is the gentiles the him is Israel. What’s the problem?”

In Moshe Shulman’s http://judaismsanswer.com/haftorah.htm he argues:

“There appears to be support for the view of the Rabbis, from the Dead Sea Scrolls, that Isaiah 53 does not relate to any consolations for the Jewish People. This is from the documents 4Q176, which is referred to as 4QTanhumin[5]. Scholars see this fragment as a collection of verses consoling Israel.”

He says:

… an examination of these(haftorah) passages we see that they give messages of comfort for the Jewish people in exile. However, no matter what the interpretation of Isaiah 53 one takes, there are no words of comfort for the Jewish people.”

I find that very interesting that the Jewish people find no comfort in Isaiah 53, for it ends on a very high note for  (according to Rashi) the sin-bearing-of the-nations Jewish people:

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

We saw earlier that for Moshe Shulman, “the LORD has laid on HIM
the iniquity of US all,”
The “us” is the gentiles the “him” is Israel.

So, Moshe is bearing my sins? Ok, not me, because deep down I’m a Jewish follower of Jesus; rather, the sins of those  gentile followers of Jesus.

It must be a great and glorious thing, if not comfort, to Moshe to believe that God has chosen him (and other Jews) to bear “our (the gentiles) sins.” I also think of those Jews who bore the sins of Jesus. With Israel’s stripes Christ could have been healed; but Jesus, Jesus, you just would not.

Anonymous made the following comment on the above :

Who said that the Jews are happy to suffer the tribulations G-d promised and delivered to them? As a Jew, are you happy that your ancestors endured 210 years of Egyptian oppression, slavery and genocide? In the final analysis, even though it was part of G-d’s plan that the Jews would suffer at Egypt’s hand, as He forecast to Abraham, does it look to you like G-d was pleased with Egpyt, or that He did not deliver them their just deserts for their iniquity?”

“While every Jew should endeavour to be a servant to G-d, no one likes to suffer. And those gentile nations who took advantage of the opportunity to badly abuse the Jewish people, G-d’s representatives in this world, are in for a heck of a surprise. They’ll be rendered speechless, and without any excuse for their despicable misconduct in the over-the-top abuse with which they castigated Israel.”

To Anonymous’s question: “Who said that the Jews are happy to suffer the tribulations G-d promised and delivered to them?”

Well, of course, they would not be happy. Nor were they happy with all the prophets who kept on and on reminding them of their whoredoms (running after false gods), and whom they hounded or killed. Who wants to be reminded of those prophetic desolations? So, let’s exclude as much desolation from our haftorah portions as we can and include as much consolations as we can.

Let me say more about Moshe Shulman’s research on the qumram document 4Q176, which “appears to be support for the view of the Rabbis, from the Dead Sea Scrolls, that Isaiah 53 does not relate to any consolations for the Jewish People.”

Document 4Q176 is from the book of “Jubilees” of the “Pseudogrraphica” collection, “created during the Second Temple period. They reflect the messianic and eschatological developments of Judaism(s) at the time…The Pseudographica is a collection of texts in which the authorship is ascribed to some important figure of history or literature who did not write them but who may appear as a figure in the work or whose name simply secures a readership” (P. 95).

If 4Q176 is of the Second Temple period, then any consolations ascribed to the motivations for its composition can’t have anything to with any Jewish suffering subsequent to this period, which is many centuries before Christ; therefore certainly nothing to do with the destruction of the second temple, or any of the Jewish persecutions through the centuries (e.g. pogroms, Shoah).

So why did the Jews of that Second Temple period leave out Isaiah 53 (if we can trust the qumram fragment of the Book of Jubilees)? What did they want to console themselves from; what suffering made them exclude Isaiah 53, which is full of so much (of their?) desolation?

Here is the probable explanation form Chabad.org.

The kings of the Kingdom of Israel practised idolatry, but so did many of the kings of the Kingdom of Judah. G d sent prophets repeatedly to admonish the Jews, but they refused to change their ways, choosing instead to deride these prophets as false messengers coming to discourage them with predictions of destruction. G d sent prophets repeatedly to admonish the Jews, but they refused to change their ways. In one egregious example, in 661 BCE, the prophet Zechariah ben Jehoiada chastised the nation for their sins, warning them of the grave punishments that would befall them if they would not change their ways. Rather than accept his rebuke, the nation stoned Zechariah to death in the Temple courtyard. Incredibly, this occurred on Yom Kippur. Rather than allowing Zechariah’s blood to settle into the earth, G d caused it to bubble up. The people tried to cover it with earth, but it continued to seethe for the next 252 years, until the Destruction of the Temple.

God is in total control of everything. He doesn’t slumber nor does he turn his back on his creation.

Isaiah 46:

10 I make known the end from the beginning,

from ancient times, what is still to come.

I say: My purpose will stand,

and I will do all that I please.

11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;

from a far-off land, a man to fulfil my purpose.

What I have said, that will I bring about;

what I have planned, that will I do.

12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,

you who are far from righteousness.

13 I am bringing my righteousness near,

it is not far away;

and my salvation will not be delayed.

I will grant salvation to Zion,

my splendour to Israel.

Before salvation comes destruction – at the hand of the LORD, for “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”

The reason why they left out Isaiah 53 becomes clearer (to me):

6a We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;

Now according to Moshe Shulman “we”: refers to the “goyim”. But that to me is incredible.

“Let’s leave Isaiah 53 out of the haftorah portions, it’s just too painful for “us” (Jews, who else?).” Surely “us” cannot be the gentile Nebuchadnezzar and his armies (who destroyed the first templeand Jerusalem, and killed most of the Jewish population).

And what about?

6b and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Who is this “him?” Moshe and Anonymous – and Rashi – say,”it’s us.”

Incredible.

In “Where Moshe Shulman is right on Isaiah 53”

I requested a response to the following:

.

How can the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 be nothing/no one but “Israel”. How can “him” and “us” in Isaiah 53:6 both refer to the same entity.
Isaiah 53:6

כֻּלָּ֙נוּ֙ כַּצֹּ֣אן תָּעִ֔ינוּ אִ֥ישׁ לְדַרְכֹּ֖ו פָּנִ֑ינוּ וַֽיהוָה֙ הִפְגִּ֣יעַ בֹּ֔ו אֵ֖ת עֲוֹ֥ן כֻּלָּֽנוּ׃

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on HIM
the iniquity of US all.

All I would like to know is how “him” and “us” can both refer to “Israel” (the suffering servant).

Moshe Shulman replied:

“The us is the gentiles the him is Israel. What’s the problem?”

In Moshe Shulman’s http://judaismsanswer.com/haftorah.htm he says:

“There appears to be support for the view of the Rabbis, from the Dead Sea Scrolls, that Isaiah 53 does not relate to any consolations for the Jewish People. This is from the documents 4Q176, which is referred to as 4QTanhumin[5]. Scholars see this fragment as a collection of verses consoling Israel.”

He adumbrates:

“… an examination of these(haftorah) passages we see that they give messages of comfort for the Jewish people in exile. However, no matter what the interpretation of Isaiah 53 one takes, there are no words of comfort for the Jewish people.”

I find that very interesting that the Jewish people find no comfort in Isaiah 53, for it ends on a very high note for – according to Rashi – the sin-bearing-of the-nations Jewish people:

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

We saw earlier that for Moshe Shulman, “the LORD has laid on HIM
the iniquity of US all”

“The us is the gentiles the him is Israel. What’s the problem?”

So, Moshe, are you are bearing my sins? Ok, not me, because deep down I’m a Jew; rather, the sins of those “Messianics” who are not of the genetic seed of Abraham, and ALL gentiles.

Surely that must be a great and glorious comfort to you, to believe that God had chosen you (and other Jews) to bear “our (the gentiles) sins” I also think of those Jews who bore the sins of Jesus. With Israel’s stripes Christ could have been healed; but Jesus, Jesus, you would not.

Anonymous made he following comment on the above:

“Who said that the Jews are happy to suffer the tribulations G-d promised and delivered to them? As a Jew, are you happy that your ancestors endured 210 years of Egyptian oppression, slavery and genocide? In the final analysis, even though it was part of G-d’s plan that the Jews would suffer at Egypt’s hand, as He forecast to Abraham, does it look to you like G-d was pleased with Egpyt, or that He did not deliver them their just deserts for their iniquity?

While every Jew should endeavour to be a servant to G-d, no one likes to suffer. And those gentile nations who took advantage of the opportunity to badly abuse the Jewish people, G-d’s representatives in this world, are in for a heck of a surprise. They’ll be rendered speechless, and without any excuse for their despicable misconduct in the over-the-top abuse with which they castigated Israel.

To Anonymous’s question: “Who said that the Jews are happy to suffer the tribulations G-d promised and delivered to them?”

Well, of course, they would not be happy. Nor were they happy with all the prophets who kept on and on reminding them of their whoredoms (running after false gods), and whom they killed. Who wants to be reminded of that desolation. So, let’s exclude as much desolation from our haftorah portions as we can and include as much consolations as we can.

With regard to Moshe Shulman’s research on the qumram document 4Q176, which “appears to be support for the view of the Rabbis, from the Dead Sea Scrolls, that Isaiah 53 does not relate to any consolations for the Jewish People.”

Document 4Q176 is from the book of “Jubilees” of the “Pseudogrraphica” collection, “created during the Second Temple period. They reflect the messianic and eschatological developments of Judaism(s) at the time…The Pseudographica is a collection of texts in which the authorship is ascribed to some important figure of history or literature who did not write them but who may appear as a figure in the work or whose name simply secures a readership” (P. 95).

http://books.google.co.za/books?id=Y5OEHnL5VdEC&pg=PA95&lpg=PA95&dq=dead+sea+scrolls+documents+4Q176&source=bl&ots=RGHD1paj-l&sig=1WS5GILgZpTeO3DtHUGfcvKc2_4&hl=en&ei=2VSGTJjnFYvgON_olMgO&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CDkQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q&f=false

If 4Q176 is of the Second Temple period, then any consolations ascribed to the motivations for its composition can’t have anything to with any Jewish suffering subsequent to this period, which is many centuries before Christ; therefore certainly nothing to do with the destruction of the second temple, or any of the Jewish persecutions through the centuries (e.g. pogroms, Shoah).

So why did the Jews of that Second Temple period leave out Isaiah 53 (if we can trust the qumram fragment of the Book of Jubilees)? What did they want to console themselves from; what suffering made them exclude Isaiah 53, which was so much desolation?

Here is the probable explanation form Chabad.org.

“The kings of the Kingdom of Israel practised idolatry, but so did many of the kings of the Kingdom of Judah. G d sent prophets repeatedly to admonish the Jews, but they refused to change their ways, choosing instead to deride these prophets as false messengers coming to discourage them with predictions of destruction. G d sent prophets repeatedly to admonish the Jews, but they refused to change their ways. In one egregious example, in 661 BCE, the prophet Zechariah ben Jehoiada chastised the nation for their sins, warning them of the grave punishments that would befall them if they would not change their ways. Rather than accept his rebuke, the nation stoned Zechariah to death in the Temple courtyard. Incredibly, this occurred on Yom Kippur. Rather than allowing Zechariah’s blood to settle into the earth, G d caused it to bubble up. The people tried to cover it with earth, but it continued to seethe for the next 252 years, until the Destruction of the Temple.

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/144569/jewish/The-First-Temple.htm

God is in total control of everything. He doesn’t slumber nor does he turn his back on his creation.

Isaiah 46:

10 I make known the end from the beginning,

from ancient times, what is still to come.

I say: My purpose will stand,

and I will do all that I please.

11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;

from a far-off land, a man to fulfil my purpose.

What I have said, that will I bring about;

what I have planned, that will I do.

12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,

you who are far from righteousness.

13 I am bringing my righteousness near,

it is not far away;

and my salvation will not be delayed.

I will grant salvation to Zion,

my splendour to Israel.

Before salvation comes destruction – at the hand of the LORD, for “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”

The reason why they left out Isaiah 53 becomes clearer (to me):

6a We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;

Now according to Moshe Shulman “we”: refers to the “goyim”. But that to me is incredible.

I can just (about) see it: “Let’s leave Isaiah 53 out of the haftorah portions, it’s just too painful for “us” (Jews; surely not Nebuchadnezzar).

And what about?

6b and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Who is this him? Moshe and Anon say, it’s them.

I say again: incredible.

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6 thoughts on “The desolation and consolation of Isaiah 53 in the qumran scrolls

  1. Shalom Raph!
    I am not pleased (with myself) that I am not a linguist like you guys, and most of the time feel that I am swimming in deeper water than I can manage, but – if I may add my two pennies worth, as a layman – I had the same problem some tears ago with a discussion that I has with a Rabbi in East London. The question of Isaiah 53 came up, and he presented me with the “they” the Gentiles and him “Israel” argument. After the discussion which lasted about an hour, I still found that there was no way that I was ever going to understand it from his point of view.
    I have no idea what rules of interpretation are allowed in such a case, but I, personally, believe that the Bible speaks plainly to those who will understand it plainly.
    I wonder why Isaiah 53 was preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls for such a time as these “last days”.
    Don’t you feel that HaShem is leaving a Message for a “stiff necked people”?

  2. Pingback: You fools! What kind of fool are you? | OneDaringJew

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