Isaiah 53

Why did Isaiah 53 emerge as the most debated chapter in the Jewish Scriptures?

Why did Isaiah 53 emerge as the most debated chapter in the Jewish Scriptures?

Christians are so convinced that Jesus is the messiah, they are utterly astounded that the Jews, of all people, consider this claim preposterous. Christians are bewildered by this rejection because it appears so obvious to them that every aspect of Jesus’ life—from his miraculous conception to his crucifixion and resurrection—was clearly predicted in the Jewish Scriptures. They wonder why the Jews then fail to embrace Jesus as their messiah. Can’t they grasp that the prophecies in their own Bible predict that the messiah would suffer and die and then rise from the grave?  How can a people who produced so many Nobel Prize winners be so dense? Are they just plain stubborn?   Why then did the Jews reject the claim that the messiah would suffer and die for the sins of the world?

The answer is quite simple: Jewish messianic expectations are firmly rooted in hundreds of prophecies recorded throughout the Hebrew Bible. And Jews who are anticipating a messiah are not looking for anyone remotely like Jesus. They are awaiting the messiah who will destroy the enemies of God, usher in worldwide peace, the universal knowledge of God, the ingathering of the exiles, the resurrection of the dead, and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Who then was Jesus?  While it is impossible to answer this question with any certainty because no contemporaneous historian mentioned Jesus, it is possible that he was one of hundreds—perhaps thousands—of obscure, itinerant preachers during the first century who came from the backwoods of the Galilee, wound up on the wrong side of the law, and was summarily executed by the empire. He then would have been one of hundreds of thousands of Jews who were crucified by the Romans during the turbulent first century.  For Jews, calling Jesus the messiah and God, Creator of the universe, is foolish and blasphemous.

But doesn’t Isaiah 53, which Christians frequently cite, predict that the messiah would be tortured and killed for the sins of mankind?  The answer to this question is simple as well: the messiah is never mentioned in Isaiah 53. Look it up for yourself!  As you will see armed with only a Bible and Rabbi Tovia Singer’s two-part audio program and written teachings on this chapter, originally this passage had nothing to do with a future messiah. This chapter was ripped out of context and key words were mistranslated.  Prior to the advent of Christianity, there was not a single prediction by anyone that the messiah would be executed for the sins of mankind.

Articles on Isaiah 53

Be easygoing with Christians

I urge my brothers and sisters to be easygoing with Christians, especially with regard to Isaiah 53, the most debated chapter in the Bible. Let’s reflect to our gentile friends and neighbors the patience that God shows us each and every day of our lives....

Who is God’s Suffering Servant?

Despite strong objections from conservative Christian apologists, the prevailing rabbinic interpretation of Isaiah 53 ascribesthe “servant” to the nation of Israel who silently endured unimaginable suffering at the hands of its gentile oppressors. The spea...

Isaiah 53: Did Jesus Have Long Life?

My question pertains to an objection you raised in your tape series regarding the christological reading of Isaiah 53, specifically verse 10. This verse says that the Servant’s days will be prolonged. Jesus, however, died young. However, if we were to be...

Get in Touch

Contact Rabbi Tovia Singer

Send a Message
Social Links


Contact Info