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isaiah 52ff translation

isaiah 52ff translation



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Published by: Bill McLella on May 08, 2008
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Bill McLellan
Covenant Theological Seminary
Prophetical Books
Dr. C. John Collins

4 April 2008
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Annotated Translation
Behold, my Servant shall prosper1;
he shall be high and lifted up, and he shall be very high.
The more2 great [people] were appalled at you\u2014
for his face was disfigured from human appearance3
and his form from the sons of man\u2014
the more he shall astonish4 many nations;
on account of him kings shall shut their mouths.
For, that which had not been recounted to them they shall see,
and that which they had not heard they shall understand.
(1)Who5 has believed what they heard from us?6
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
(2)And he grew up like a sapling7 before him
and like a root out of dry ground,
and [he had] no form to him and no splendor and8 we should look at him,
and no appearance and we should desire him.
1 For the hiph. form of the verblkf, BDB gives act circumspectly,prudently, as the LXX, ESV and NIV translate,
andp ro s p e r, have success, as the NRS and NAS translate. I have gone with prosper because the context focuses on
the Servant\u2019s exaltation despite his suffering, but both renderings are clearly possible.
2 Most translations, including ESV, NRS, and NIV, give Just as \u2026 So\u2026; but BDB says that whenrv,a]Kis
answered by !Ke, it means the more\u2026the more, and this makes sense for English readers in this context (B4348
pg 455).I add an article tomany simply because \u201cthe more many\u201d sounds awkward.
3 ESV: beyond human semblance; NAS: more than any man? Them here is probably one of separation rather than

comparison. Isaiah does not mean that this person is more disfigured than any other person, but that he is so disfigured that he hardly appears human [John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 40-66 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 373).

4 While the ESV, NIV and other evangelical commentaries translatehZ<y: heresprinkle, the LXX translates

itq auma,sont ai (astonish), and the NRS translates itstartle. As Deilizsch argues, this Hebrew verb always takes
an accusative or direct object referring to blood or water or whatever was used for sprinkling, never the thing or
person sprinkled like an altar. Moreover, this line of Hebrew poetry runs parallel with the next line; together, they
communicate the amazement the nations and their rulers will have before the Servant. Without this word, we loose
nothing of his priestly sacrificial work communicated so clearly later in the poem.

5 Gesenius explains that this interrogative

accompanied by the perfect here expresses a rhetorical question
expecting a denial (Wilhelm Gesenius, Gesenius\u2019 Hebrew Grammar; Ed. E. Kautzsch [Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1910], 476).

6 There have been suggestions that this is the prophets (collectively) or even the Gentiles, but it fits better as a
lament of the prophet as a representative of Israel that so many have turned from the faith the remnant has nearly
become obsolete (Delitszsch, 504).
7 The LXX and the Syr both say that this is a young child, and, although

refers to a \u201csucking one,\u201d and can refer
either to a human or a plant (see BDB 413), the parallelism supports the latter. See Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, 374,
n. 59; and Motyer who suggests that the image of the plant recalls the Messiah as the \u201choly seed\u201d of 6:13 (The

Prophesy of Isaiah, 428).
8 I have only kept this
\ue000as \u201cand\u201d in keeping with the course translation rules. All of the major translations here

choose to translate this as \u201cthat,\u201d which makes better sense of the cohortative. Jo\u00fcon and Muraoka explain this as an indirect cohortative \u201cfor us to remark him\u201d (A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew [SubBi 27; Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2006], \u00a7116c).

(3)[He was] despised and forsaken by men,
a man of sorrows and experienced with suffering9;
and like a hiding of faces from him,
he was despised and we did not esteem him.
(4)Surely our suffering10 he himself has carried,
and our sorrows he has born;
and we esteemed him struck down,
smitten by God and afflicted.
(5)And [he was] pierced11 for our transgressions,
[he was] crushed for our iniquities;
chastisement for our peace12 [was] upon him,
and by his stripes it was healed for us.13
(6)All we like the sheep have wandered;
man has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has caused to fall on him
all of our iniquity.
(7)He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
and he did not open his mouth;

like the lamb led to the slaughter,
and like a ewe before its shearers [is] silent,
he also did not open his mouth.

(8)By coercion and by judgment he was taken.
And who has considered his descendents14?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
struck down for the transgression of my people.
(9)And they placed his grave with the wicked,
and [he was] with the rich in his death,15
9 BDB, 393, explains that \u05d9\u05b4\u05dc\u05b9\u05d7 \u05b7\u05e2\u05d5\u05d3\u05d9\u05b4\ue000 is lit. \u201cknown of sickness.\u201d I use that translation because, as Kidner explains,
the sense may be that of a \u201cphysician\u2019s voluntary involvement; for he is also a man of pain and sickness in the sense
that he gives himself to these things and their relief\u201d [Derrick Kidner, \u201cIsaiah,\u201d In The New Bible Commentary, 21st
Century Edition, ed. Donald Guthrie and J. A. Motyer, (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, NBC), 663].
10 Bergey suggests the assonance of using the long vowelu sound 26 times in 53:4-6 may be onomatopoeic
connoting sorrow [Ronald Bergey, \u201cThe Rhetorical Role of Reiteration in the Suffering Servant Poem (Isa 52:13-
53:12,\u201d in JETS 40/2 (June 1997), 180].
11 BDB (319), NIV; ESV and NRS, along with the LXX:wounded? In 51:9, the participle is used of a death wound.

Delitzsch notes, \u201cThere were no stronger expressions to be found in the language, to denote a violent and painful
death\u201d [F. Delitszsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: Isaiah (Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody, MA, 1996. vol
7), 509]. While the wordp i e rc e d may be unnecessarily evocative of crucifixion, Isaiah\u2019s point is that the Servant
was fatally wounded, which matches the parallel linecrushed. In context, the translationwounded is insufficient.

12 A genitive of result i.e. that \u201cwhich leads to our peace\u201d [Ronald J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline, 2nd Ed.
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976) \u00a744.]
13 See Jouon-Muraoka for this use of the impersonal passive verb (\u00a7152fa) with an indirect object (\u00a7128ba): \u201ca
healing was performed for us.\u201d
14 ESV and NAS; NIVdes cendents; NRSf u t u re;BDB gives all of these possibilities, but given the context, that the
Servant was killed too soon and that later he is promised offspring, I have chosen to go withdes cendents. (BDB
15 From the parallelism of these two lines, it seems that in Isaiah\u2019s social context and from his perspective, it would
have been morally suspect to have been buried in a rich man\u2019s tomb; perhaps one had to be violent and wicked to
have been rich: hence, the irony that the Servant was neither violent nor treacherous.

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