12. The Suffering Servant
They who hate me without cause are more than the hairs of my head; mighty are those who would destroy me, who hate me wrongfully; what I did not steal, must I now restore?
Jesus quotes this passage as if it was refering to himself:
But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law: "They hated me without a cause."
Because it is for Your sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face.
For zeal for Your House has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult You have fallen on me.
Jesus is also said to be the subject of these verses:
For Christ did not please himself, but, as it is written: "The reproaches of those who reproach You fell on me."
They gave me poison in my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
The soldiers also mocked [Jesus], coming up and offering him vinegar, and saying: "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!"
If Jesus really fulfilled the second half of this verse, why not the first part? Also the rest of this Psalm must also be attributed to him. For example:
O G-d, You know my folly, my sins are not hidden from You.
Yet this verse was omitted from the New Testament because it contradicts the doctrine that Jesus was sinless:
I Peter 2:22
He committed no sin; no guile was found in his mouth.
When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them.
Jesus is not said to have worn sackcloth. But David (the author of this Psalm) and the Jewish people did:
I Chronicles 21:16
David and the elders, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother's children.
This "prophecy" was supposedly fulfilled by Jesus:
For even [Jesus'] brothers did not believe in him.
Jesus came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
Although "No wisdom, understanding, or counsel can avail against the L-rd" (Proverbs 21:30), missionaries claim the following two verses foretell Judas betraying Jesus (Matthew 26:47-49).
Out of you came one who plotted evil against the L-rd, and counselled wickedness.
This verse refers to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria as the beginning of the chapter indicates:
An oracle concerning Nineveh: the book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh.
Out of Nineveh came its king, Sennacherib, who plotted to destroy G-d's holy city, and Sanctuary by attacking the kingdom of Judah during the reign of Hezekiah. Concerning this invasion, the Prophet continues:
Thus says the L-rd, "Though they be united and many, they will be cut off and pass away, though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more."
Although the Assyrian army was large and powerful, G-d promised to destroy it saving Israel from further affliction. This is what occurred:
And the angel of the L-rd went forth and slew 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when they arose early in the morning, behold, [Assyria] was all dead corpses.
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
Prior to this verse, the Psalmist begs:
O L-rd, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against You.
As stated, the New Testament claims that Jesus was sinless. Nonetheless, it attributes this verse to him:
I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled: "He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me."
My G-d, my G-d, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, from the words of my cry?
The New Testament (Matthew 27:46) quotes this verse as the last words of Jesus on the cross before his death. But this poses a delemna for those who claim that Jesus came into the world to suffer and die for the sins of others. They cannot logically explain why at that moment, he accuses G-d of abandoning him!
Rather this Psalm voices the concerns of the Jewish people. Thus it continues:
In You our fathers trusted; they trusted, and You did deliver them. To You they cried and were saved; in You they trusted, and they were not disappointed.
This verse is alluding to:
In the course of those many days, the king of Egypt died and the children of Israel groaned under their bondage and cried out, and their cry out of bondage rose up to G-d.
Unlike the verse under discussion, the following verse in this Psalm is not attributed to Jesus:
But I am a worm, not a man; scorned by men and despised by the people.
Again, the "speaker" is the Jewish people. Compare:
"Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you, says the L-rd; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel."
Thus says the L-rd, the Redeemer of Israel, His holy one, to that [Jewish nation] which is despised by men, to that which is abhorred by the nations, to the servant of rulers.
This Psalm continues:
All who see me mock me: they make mouths at me, they shake their heads.
They claim that this is foretelling peoples' reaction to Jesus being crucified:
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads.
However, King David was not alluding to Jesus, but to Israel.
You make us a taunt to our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those about us. You make us a byword among the nations, a shaking of the head among the peoples.
For dogs have encompassed me; a company of evildoers encircles me; like a lion, they are at my hands and feet.
The phrase "like a lion" is a translation of the Hebrew "ke'ari." Compare:
Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
Missionaries translate "ke'ari" as "they have pierced my hands and feet." Fortelling the crucifixion! The Psalm continues to show it is wrong:
Save me from the lion's mouth, for You have answered me from the horns of wild oxen.
ISRAEL IS THE SUFFERING SERVANT ... NOT JESUS
Origen, 3rd Century Church Father (Contra Celsus Book 1, Chapter 55)
Awake, awake, bear your strength, O Zion; don your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city, for no more shall the uncircumcised and the unclean come unto you.
Therefore, My people shall know My Name; therefore, in that day, they shall know that it is I Who speaks; here am I.
Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for the L-rd has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.
For you shall not go out in haste and you shall not go in flight, for the L-rd will go before you, and the G-d of Israel will be your rear guard.
Thus far, Isaiah Chapter 52 is speaking about the Jews' return to Jerusalem as the Messianic Era begins. Starting with the next verse the subject does not suddenly change to Jesus! The main themes clearly remain:
Isaiah 52:13-15 ... G-d is speaking.
Behold, My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted, extolled, and raised very high.
The word Mashiach (Messiah or anointed) does not appear in this entire chapter. And nowhere in the Hebrew Bible is the Messiah called G-d's servant. But, Israel is: (also Isaiah 44:1, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20)
But, you Israel, are My servant; Jacob, whom I have chosen; seed of Abraham, My friend.
And He said to me: "You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified!"
Moreover, the following verse creates an obvious dilemma for those who identify this servant as Jesus:
Who is blind but My servant, or deaf as My messenger, whom I send? Who is blind as My dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the L-rd?
During the Messianic Era it is the Jews who will prosper and be greatly "exalted, extolled, and raised very high":
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers. But you shall be called "priests of the L-rd," men shall say of you, "ministers of our G-d"; you shall eat the wealth of the nations and glory in their riches.
Just as many were astonished at you, [saying] "His appearance is too marred to be that of a man, and his form to be that of the sons of men."
Much earlier, Isaiah presents a more detailed, metaphorical description of the toll Israel's suffering has taken:
Where could you still be smitten, that you continue to rebel? Every head is sick and every heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it; but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds, they are neither pressed out nor bound up nor softened with oil.
It is not uncommon for Israel to be personified:
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.
Israel has endured a long, oppressive exile. But at the beginning of the Messianic Era, G-d will make the truth known, and then:
So shall he startle many nations, kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them, they shall see, and that which they have not heard, they shall understand.
The Nations will be stunned by the inner dimensions of the Jews and their relationship to G-d. Likewise:
Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers, with their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you and lick the dust of your feet then you will know that I am the L-rd; those who wait for Me shall not be put to shame.
Foreigners shall build up your walls and their kings shall minister to you; for in My wrath I smote you, but in My favor I have had mercy on you.
Who would have believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the L-rd been revealed?
The Nations speaking here will not see G-d's mighty arm of salvation until the beginning of the Messianic Era:
The L-rd has bared His holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our G-d.
He grew up before Him like a tender plant, like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look upon him, and no beauty that we should delight in him.
It is describing the Jewish people growing to nationhood in the desert after the exodus from Egypt:
[G-d] led you through the great and dreadful wilderness, with its fiery serpents, and scorpions and thirsty ground, for there was no water.
For the vineyard of the L-rd of hosts is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant.
He was despised and forsaken by men; a man of pains, and accustomed to disease; and like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed him not.
In Biblical Hebrew, although the word "ish," literally means "man," it frequently refers to many, as it does here. Similarly:
And the man of Israel, besides Benjamin, numbered 400,000 man who drew sword; all these were man of war.
The Hebrew word "adam" (man) can refer to many as well:
And you, My flock, the sheep of My pasture, are man,
Thus, the "man of pains" here is Israel, which has indeed been despised and forsaken by the nations of the world.
In contrast, Jesus was supposedly very popular:
And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
Surely he has borne our diseases and endured our pains, yet we thought him stricken, smitten by G-d, and afflicted. But he was wounded because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and by his injury we were healed. Like sheep we all went astray. Everyone turned to his own way; and the L-rd has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This is the Nations' confession. Israel is described in these terms elsewhere:
in the day the L-rd binds up the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound.
For thus says the L-rd: "Your [Israel's] hurt is incurable, and your wound is grievous."
Until the Messiah arrives, Israel's suffering will atone for the sins of the Nations. At the start of the Messianic Era, the Nations will realize that they themselves deserved the pains and calamities they inflicted on the Jews, the bearers of Divine Truth.
Jesus did not voluntarily suffer & die for the sins of others:
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers, he opened not his mouth.
Jesus did "open his mouth" on the cross:
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice: "E-li, E-li, lama sabachthani?" that is: "My G-d, my G-d, why have You forsaken me?"
By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation, who considered? For he was cut off out of the land of the living. For the transgression of my people was the stroke upon them.
Each Nation will blame itself for Israel's being "cut off out of the land of the living," and each will be grieved in knowing that it was deserving of such affliction. "was the stroke upon them [lamo]" (compare Isaiah 48:21) - individual Jews that make up the Servant were stricken.
And they made his grave with the wicked and in his deaths among the rich, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth. See below.
Yet it pleased the L-rd to crush him by disease, to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, in order that he might see his seed and prolong his days. And that the will of the L-rd might prosper by his hand.
One purpose for Israel's suffering is to make restitution to G-d for its sins, thereby earning complete forgiveness:
I, I am He Who blots out your transgressions for My sake, and I will not remember your sins.
After this restitution is made and Israel is completely purified, Israel will "see its seed," i.e., it will be blessed with an abundance of children, as promised:
And the L-rd, your G-d, will bring you into the land your fathers possessed, in order that you may possess it, and He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.
G-d will also "prolong his days," granting the Jewish people extreme longevity:
They shall not build and another inhabit, they shall not plant and another eat, for the days of My people shall be like the days of a tree, and My chosen ones shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
Jesus' days were not prolonged, nor did he "see his seed", he died childless in his mid 30's.
He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied, by his knowledge did My servant justify the Righteous One to the many and bear their iniquities.
The Jews have certainly borne the iniquities of non-Jews throughout history. By submitting themselves to this treatment and acknowledging it to be His will, they have justified and sanctified G-d's Name. In the Messianic Era, the Nations will realize this self sacrifice and the Jewish people will be satisfied and rewarded:
They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the L-rd of hosts has spoken.
"At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you together, for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your captivity before your eyes," says the L-rd.
As we have seen, Jesus did not justify G-d on the cross nor in the Temple (below). And as shown in chapter 2, Jesus was cast as a "bearer of iniquity" only to capitalize on the current popular Krishna and Buddha legends.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; for he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with transgressors, yet he bore the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors.
The Jew has "borne the sin of many" by being unjustly accused and denied a fair trial. Consequently, he was "numbered with the transgressors" and made to "pour out his soul to death." Yet, they have relentlessly "interceded for the non-Jewish transgressors," in compliance with:
And seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you, and pray to the L-rd on its behalf, for in its welfare you will have peace.
In the Hebrew Bible, spoil refers exclusively to property and valuables taken in war:
But all the cattle and the spoil of the cities, we took for prey for ourselves.Never having participated in a war, Jesus could not have taken spoils. But Israel has and will again:
"[Israel] will despoil those who despoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them," says the L-rd.
And they made his grave with the wicked and in his deaths among the rich, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth.
"They" refer to non-Jews, who robbed rich Jews by falsely accusing them of wrongdoing, then killing and burying them with common criminals.
Jesus made his grave with the rich, not the wicked:
Matthew 27:57, 59-60
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph....And Joseph took [Jesus'] body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb.
Conversely, Jesus died among the wicked, not the rich:
Then the two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right hand, and one on the left.
The phrase "in his deaths" (bemotayv) is also inappropriate for Jesus, for he died only once. But it means the deaths of individual Jews that make up the Servant.
Also, Jesus committed violent acts:
In the morning, as [Jesus] was returning to the city, he was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside he went to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only. And he said to it: "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree dried up at once.
If this really happened, what wrong did the tree do, especially since we learn:
it was not the season for figs.
Jesus is said to have permitted "demons" to possess 2000 herd of swine, which promptly stampeded off a cliff and drowned in the sea (Mark 5:11-13). Surely he could have exorcised these "demons":
G-d also enabled [Solomon] to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms by which they drive away demons, so that they never return, and this method of cure is of great force to this day for I have seen a certain man of my own country whose name was Eleazar releasing people that were demonical in the presence of Vespasian [king of Rome], and his sons, and his captains and the whole multitude of his soldiers. Josephus Antiquities, Book 8, Chapter 2, Section 5
John 2:13-15The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple, he found those who were selling oxen, and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting, and when he had made a whip of cords, he drove them all, with their sheep and oxen, out of the Temple; and he poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
The Jews were visiting the Temple in compliance with G-d's command:
Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the L-rd your G-d in the place which He shall choose.
People arriving from distant lands, needed to exchange their currency for Judean money to buy sacrificial animals, food and drink, etc. Therefore, animal merchants and money changers were present. They were not on unassigned areas where such practice would be sacrilege. Otherwise, the Temple officials and the millions of worshippers would have stopped it.
How then can one justify Jesus' behavior? And even if, for whatever reason, he could not tolerate what he saw, surely he could have expressed his feelings in a more courteous and dignified manner, especially on the Temple grounds, during the Passover preparations, and in the presence of multitudes of pilgrims!
Moreover, there was deceit in Jesus' mouth:
Jesus said: "These signs will accompany those who believe in my name: they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Truly, truly, I [Jesus] say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to my Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.
And Abraham said: "G-d will provide Himself with the lamb for an offering, my son," and the two of them went together.
This was Abraham's answer to his son's question:
"Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for an offering?"
Abraham's most difficult test of loyalty to G-d was the binding of his son, Isaac. The above dialogue was part of that ordeal. Before Abraham actually slayed his son, G-d stopped him by revealing the offering He really desired:
And Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; so Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as an offering instead of his son.
According to missionaries, the verse under discussion is prophesying that Jesus "the lamb" will be offered up to G-d on the cross.
and they shall look to Me, Whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and be embittered over him as one is embittered over a firstborn.
It is clear from the verse prior to this, that it is describing the final war between Israel and the nations:
And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
The verse under discussion can be made more clear:
Israel enjoys a special Providence and closeness to G-d:
For what great nation has G-d so near to it as the L-rd our G-d is to us whenever we call upon Him?
Therefore, what befalls Israel is said to have happened to G-d. In this instance, G-d is said to have been "thrust through" when Israel was in fact the victim. Similarly:
In all their affliction, He was afflicted....
According to the New Testament, the verse under discussion is prophesying the crucifixion of Jesus:
But one of the soldiers pierced his side, with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water....For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled...."They shall look upon him whom they have pierced."
The verse says "to Me" (eilai), not "upon him" (ahlav). See the verse below in the Hebrew:
Then you said to your servant: "Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes upon him."
When they [pious] cried for help, the L-rd heard and delivered them from all their troubles. The L-rd is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the L-rd delivers him from them all. He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken.
This Psalm begins: A Psalm of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away. After he was saved from Abimelech, David praised G-d for protecting the righteous.
The verse under discussion supposedly foretells that none of Jesus' bones would be broken on the cross:
For these things took place that the Scripture should be fulfilled: "Not a bone of him shall be broken."
And one shall say to him: "What are these wounds between your hands?" Then he shall answer: "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends."
This verse refers to the false prophets who will arise prior to the Messianic Era. The preceding verses make this clear:
and I will also remove from the land the prophets and the unclean spirit. And if any one of them again prophesies, his father and mother who bore him will say to him: "You shall not live, for you speak lies in the Name of the L-rd;" and his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies.
Missionaries claim that the verse under discussion alludes to Jesus' crucifixion wounds.
"Awake, O sword, against My shepherd and upon the man who is near Me," says the L-rd of hosts; strike the shepherd, in order that the sheep may be scattered; I will turn My hand upon the little ones.
The focus of Zechariah 13 is imposters: first false prophets and now incompetent and insincere rulers who are to "shepherd" the exiled Jewish people, a nation likened to sheep:
My people has been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray.
G-d promises to scrutinize these shepherds bringing them near to Him and to punish them for oppressing His flock. He will then "turn His hand upon the little ones [Jews]" in a gesture of salvation, as in:
I will turn My hand upon you and smelt away your dross as if with lye and remove all your alloy.
The New Testament sees Jesus as the shepherd here:
Then Jesus said to them: "You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'"