The raising of the servant in Isaiah; by Israel’s bootstraps

Jews argue that the suffering servant in the book of Isaiah refers to the nation Israel because there are many preceding passages in Isaiah that refer to the servant as Israel, that is, the “tribes of Jacob” mentioned in Chapter 49:6 below:

Isaiah 49:3-6
“3 And he said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. 4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.
5 And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. 6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”

Consider verse 6. It says that “It is a light thing that thou should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel.” If the servant in this passage (whom God formed from the womb, verse 5) is Israel, then Israel (tribes of Jacob) will raise itself up by it’s own bootstraps. And that is exactly what Israel and Jewish commentators on Isaiah 53 are attempting to do.

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7 thoughts on “The raising of the servant in Isaiah; by Israel’s bootstraps

  1. Christians argue that the suffering servant in the Book of Isaiah is Jesus.

    Consider these passages from Isaiah:

    * 41:8–”But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen…”
    * 42:24–”Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers?”
    * 43:1–”But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”
    * 44:1–”Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:”
    * 44:21–”Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.”
    * 45:4–”For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect…”
    * 49:3–”Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

    So, it could be that suffering servant really is Jesus, and not the Jewish people; all it takes to believe that is a complete rejection of Isaiah’s prophecy–the very prophecy Christians contend is the Biblical proof of Jesus’ messiahship!

    Christians argue that the suffering servant in the Book of Isaiah is Jesus. But Jesus isn’t mentioned once in the entire prophetic revelation of Isaiah. Jesus isn’t mentioned in the Jewish Bible at all. Jesus is also not mentioned in the Mishna (the Jewish oral tradition) or the Jewish prayer book, or any Jewish religious writing at all. But should anyone buy the argument that the suffering servant in the Book of Isaiah is really Jesus, and not Israel?

    The Bible asks that question in Deuteronomy 18:21: “You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the L-rd?'” One easy test is to compare what the Christian missionary tells you with the clear, emphatic, repeated word of G-d in the Bible. In this case, the evangelical is taking a position that is exactly opposite what G-d told us through His prophet Isaiah.

      • Little piece of advice, Raf:

        Worry less about what I say, and more about what the Bible says.

        It doesn’t matter at all that I say G-d’s suffering servant is Israel rather than Jesus; it matters only what the Bible says.

  2. “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6 No doubt Isaiah is writing about the Servant who is the promised Messiah Yeshua, the Savior of all who believe in and receive Him.

    • David,

      You wrote “Isaiah is writing about the Servant who is the promised Messiah [Jesus]”.

      Not only is your claim unsupported by the Book of Isaiah, you are directly contradicted by the prophecy. G-d never mentioned that Jesus is His servant; in fact, Jesus wasn’t even a known figure to the Author of the Jewish Bible. Instead, we find:

      Is. 41:8–”But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen…”
      42:24–”Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers?”
      43:1–”But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”
      44:1–”Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:”
      44:21–”Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.”
      45:4–”For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect…”
      49:3–”Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

      You may have no doubt that the servant in Isaiah’s prophecy is Jesus, but G-d certainly does. Moreover, there is just as much basis–that is, none–to claim that the suffering servant in the Book of Isaiah is George Washington, the Dalai Lama or Robert Redford as there is to say that it was Jesus. All of these parties have in common that they are not Israel, and are therefore explicitly not the subject suffering servant, but of the four contenders only Jesus is a likely fictional character. However, if you wish to persist in your beliefs in an unjust god punishes the innocent and rewards the guilty, at least open your eyes to the real source of Christian theology here: http://www.harekrsna.de/christ-chrishna.htm.

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