The Suffering Servant: Part I

The Suffering Servant: Part II
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As a descendant of Judah from my paternal heritage, my most valued treasure is the unshakable testimony of the Divinity of Jesus the Messiah, Son of God. In this five-part series we shall focus on two of the most sublime Messianic chapters in Scripture.

In Isaiah 52:13–15, and flowing into Isaiah 53, Skinner beautifully says: “The tragedy of which they have been spectators [the Suffering Servant’s contemporaries] makes an impression far more profound and convincing than any direct teaching could have done, compelling them to recognize the mission of the Suffering Servant, and at the same time producing penitence and confession of their own sin. The whole conception here given of the Servant of the Lord makes the prophecy the most remarkable anticipation in the Old Testament of the ‘sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.’”

Urwick writes: “The more accurately and closely the passage is studied, the clearer does its Messianic import appear … No interpretation of this chapter at all comes up to its tone and befits its language, save that which recognizes here the invitations, the blessings, the triumphs of the gospel of Christ … Our English version of this famous passage is in the main as correct as it is beautiful. Compared with any newly attempted and competing translations, it far transcends them in sublime simplicity and in pathos.”

There are those who would deny the Messianic nature of these verses, or the Divinity of Isaiah Reveals Ways to Remember Christ for Easter in Mosiah 14 and Isaiah 53our Savior. But carefully note the ancient Targum of Jonathan (????), which makes it clear that these verses are of the Christ. Wordsworth says: “That this is a prophecy of the sufferings and exaltation of the Messiah, is confessed by many of the Hebrew Rabbis, as in Targum of Jonathan here, H. Simeon, and R. Moshe, R. Alschech.”

Cowles also notes: “Jewish opinion show that they applied it to the Messiah; e.g., the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it, ‘My servant, the Messiah.’ This is supposed to bear date before the Christian era. That this opinion was held by the oldest school of Jewish interpreters is freely admitted by the Jewish doctors of the middle ages who themselves discarded the Messianic interpretation because they discarded the Christian Messiah; e.g., Ibn-Ezra, Jarchi, and Abarbanel.—In the Christian church, the Messianic interpretation was held almost universally until the close of the eighteenth century. It was then abandoned by various German critics who had previously discarded the doctrine of atonement and of divine inspiration. Their denial of its reference to the Messiah may very properly prompt us to a more vigilant examination of the subject and to a more thorough canvassing of its significance and weighing of its proofs; but need shake no man’s faith, for the passage rejoices in the most searching scrutiny and triumphs only the more, by how much the more severe is the ordeal of criticism through which skeptical minds may cause it to pass.”

Wordsworth states: “The ancient Jews always connected these three verses with what follows in the fifty-third chapter and applied them to the same Person—the Messiah.”

Also Horsley, along with numerous other exegetes, believes this passage ought to have been coupled with Isaiah 53: “This chapter should end with the 12th verse, and the three following verses should make the beginning of the fifty-third chapter; in which the immediate subject is the humiliation and sufferings of the Messiah, his accomplishment of the general redemption, and his progress through suffering to glory.”

Instead, I would suggest that just as Isaiah has done with other subjects throughout, he is giving us a foretaste of things to come, in this case, of the Messiah’s sufferings on earth, more fully expanded in Isaiah 53. So also Rawlinson: “It is generally allowed by modern commentators that this passage is more closely connected with what follows it than with what precedes. Some would detach it altogether from Isaiah 52 and attach it to Isaiah 53. But this is not necessary. The passage has a completeness in itself [and serves as a prelude or introduction to the same].”

Govett well says that there is a contrast, in these last verses, between the mortal Messiah and the glorified Messiah: “Then follows a prediction of Jesus, and a comparison is instituted between his first and second coming. As many were astonished at his marred countenance when he came in humility, so ‘when he shall be exalted, and lifted very high.’” Indeed, there is a sort of chiasmus here. Isaiah 52:14 is the center of the poem, focusing on the mortal Messiah, and the verses on each side (Isaiah 52:13, 15) speak of the glorified Lord.

Keith suggests: “These verses … describe the glory of Christ, which will be manifested when he shall gather Israel, a glory which shall be in proportion to his former shame.”

Cheyne writes: “The importance of this chapter justifies a somewhat fuller commentary than usual. The ideas are well fitted to arrest the attention, especially that of Vicarious Atonement, which some have labored hard to expel from the prophecy, but which still forces itself on the unbiased reader.”

Faussett writes: “The correspondence with the life and death of Jesus Christ is so minute, that it could not have resulted from conjecture or accident. An impostor could not have shaped the course of events so as to have made his character and life appear to be a fulfillment of it. The writing is, moreover, declaredly prophetic.”

Delitzsch writes quoting the Jewish perspective: “‘Christian scholars’ says Abravanel, ‘interpret this prophecy as referring to that man who was crucified in Jerusalem about the end of the second temple, and who, according to their view, was the Son of God, who became man in the womb of the Virgin.

But Jonathan ben Uziel explains it as relating to the Messiah who has yet to come, and this is the opinion of the ancients in many of their Midrashim.’ So that even the synagogue could not help acknowledging that the passage of the Messiah through death to glory is predicted here.”

As in other occasions, Isaiah gives a hint of what is to come in more detail later. Driver & Neubauer, who write about the Jewish perspective, quote Yepheth Ben ‘Ali, a Karaite,[1] who after refuting the idea that these three verses could apply to the prophets in general or to Jeremiah in particular, boldly states: “As to myself, I am inclined, with Benjamin of Nehawend, to regard it as alluding to the Messiah …”

And so it is. I invite you to prayerfully study these verses here and those of Isaiah 53, for indeed the Spirit boldly testifies of Messiah, the Anointed One.

¶ “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” —Isaiah 52:13

“Behold, my servant shall deal prudently.” The Targum (????) says, “Behold, my servant the Messiah shall prosper. Once again, note the reference to the Messiah. Cheyne says: “The same verb [יַשְׂכִּיל from the root שָׂכַל, wisely, prudently, to be a success, see Gesenius also] is applied to the ‘righteous Branch’ (i.e., probably, the Messiah) in Jeremiah 23:5[2].” Not probably but surely of the Messiah.

The Jewish Midrash Tanhuma, explains Henderson (also see Schiller-Szinessy, Urwick), “‘This is the King Messiah,—who shall be higher than Abraham, more elevated than Moses, and exalted above the ministering angels.’”

Urwick further says: “Rabbi Alschech (in his commentary on this chapter, AD 1601) says: ‘Upon the testimony of tradition, our old Rabbins have unanimously admitted that King Messiah is here the subject of discourse.’”

Alexander defends the idea of the Messiah is here meant by my servant, עַבְדִּי: “The objection, that the title servant is not applied elsewhere to Messiah, would have little force if true, because the title in itself is a general one, and may be applied to any chosen instrument; it is not true, however, as the single case of Zechariah 3:8 will suffice to shew, without appealing to the fact, that the same application of the title, either partial or exclusive, has been found admissible above in Isaiah 42:1, 49:3, and 50:10.”

Zechariah 3:8 reads: “Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch,” אֶת־עַבְדִּי צֶמַחּּ. Urwick, in defending the Messianic view, explains: “The word עֶבֶד occurs twice only in the passage [speaking of Isaiah 52:13–15 through Isaiah 53:12]; in the beginning, 52:13: ‘Behold my Servant’ and near the close, 53:11: ‘My righteous Servant;’ but the recurrence of the personal pronoun throughout, the emphatic and repeated הוּא, points obviously to Him, as distinct from the אֲנַחְנוּ, we.

There is a contrast very marked throughout between the Servant on the one hand, and the people collectively on the other. If our English version is deficient in any way, it is in not giving sufficient emphasis to these pronouns, הוּא, He, Himself, on the one hand; and אֲנַחְנוּ, we on our part, on the other. That emphatic pronoun occurs five times in the passage, which in other places our translators have rendered by the words: He Himself, e.g. Psalm 1:6: ‘God is Judge Himself;’ Psalm 37:5: ‘The Prophet Himself;’ Isaiah 7:14: ‘Jehovah Himself shall give you a sign.’”

“He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” The Targum (????) says, for the last clause, “And He shall be very strong.” The LXX (????) reads, “And be exalted and highly glorified.” Schiller-Szinessy makes a comment of special interest to the LDS: “וְגָבַהּ means in itself simply and shall be high, and becomes relatively the superlative, only by the addition of another word … ‘For one higher than a high one regardeth, and there are higher ones than they.’ Here the other qualifying word is מְאֹד [very]” (emphasis added).

In Abraham we read: “And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all” (Abraham 3:19, emphasis added).

Cowles says: “‘Extolled’ is here … [to mean] elevated, raised to supreme dignity and glory. All these terms concur in this one idea, which is put in its strongest possible form by the accumulation of all the words of the language which express it, heightened by the intensive, very, exceedingly, at the end.” These words are intimately associated with Isaiah 6:1, when Isaiah saw the Lord “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” It is this lifted up, exalted, portion that has always particularly touched my heart. In that place most exegetes think it was the throne that was lifted up, but Kay and I believe it was the Lord who was exalted.

Furthermore, there is no doubt that here in Isaiah 52:13, we are speaking of the Messiah as being exalted and glorified. Yes, indeed our Redeemer atoned for our sins and triumphed over the grave, completing His expiatory work so that He could well say: “And now, O Father, glorify [see LXX (????) here in Isaiah 52:13] thou me with thine own self with the glory [see LXX (????) here in Isaiah 52:13] which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). All those who are true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ “shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 38:5b, also see Alma 37:37).

Jenour states: “St. Paul furnishes the best commentary that can be given upon these words; ‘Wherefore God hath highly exalted him (Jesus), and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow’ (Philippians 2:9).” The Jewish view is also that the Messiah will be the most exalted. Driver & Neubauer quote Yalqut, as we saw earlier: “Who art thou, great mountain? (Zechariah 4:7) This refers to the King Messiah. And why does he call him ‘the great mountain?’ because he is greater than the patriarchs, as it is said, ‘My servant shall be high, and lifted up, and lofty exceedingly’—he will be higher than Abraham, who says, ‘I raise high my hands unto the Lord’ (Genesis 14:22); lifted up above Moses, to whom it is said, ‘Lift it up into thy bosom’ (Numbers 11:12); loftier than the ministering angels, of whom it is written, ‘Their wheels were lofty and terrible’ (Ezekiel 1:18). And out of whom does he come forth? Out of David (Yalqut 2:571).”

“As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:” —Isaiah 52:14

As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man. The Targum (????) says, “As the house of Israel anxiously hoped for Him many days.” Isaiah is about to speak of the mortal Messiah. Birks says “The appearance and character of Messiah would be a marvel and cause of astonishment to the Jewish people. He would wholly disappoint the expectation of carnal minds, who looked for all outward signs of royalty and worldly greatness. The rest of the verse explains the source of their astonishment, the appearance of a sorrowful and suffering Messiah.”

Cowles, leaning on Alexander says: “The many individuals were amazed at his marred visage and saw only things toward which they felt contempt and aversion.” Skinner writes: “The word ‘astonied’ expresses the blank amazement, mingled with horror, excited in the minds of beholders by the spectacle of the Servant’s unparalleled sufferings (cf. 1 Kings 9:8; Jeremiah 2:12; 18:16).”

Keith says: “In regard to his humiliation it is said, that the effects of his sufferings were so traceable in his appearance as to excite the astonishment of the spectator. Judging from the effects of suffering in others, in the shrunken features and shattered frame of the sufferer, no doubt, although it is not expressed in his history, that of Christ told visibly upon the frame of him who was flesh of our flesh. And as his sufferings were greater than others can endure, so, doubtless, his visage and form were more marred than those of others … Visage, from מַרְאֶה, signifying a looking, then the object seen, then appearance, as in Exodus 24:17. This is the meaning here, not the face only, but the general appearance.”

Jenour explains: “The humiliation and after glory of our adorable Redeemer are clearly predicted here, and in the following chapter. When his countenance was disfigured with tears and blood; and his body with stripes and wounds, and he hung in expiring agony upon the cross, to which he had been fastened by the hands of wicked men, then they who beheld him, looked upon him with scorn, and mocked and despised him.” There seems little doubt, at any rate, that Isaiah saw our Redeemer in the Garden of Gethsemane as well as on the cross.

Quoting Dr. Kalisch, Urwick explains that the whole point of the Mosaic law according to the Jewish perspective pointed to the role the Messiah would play: “So the Kabbalists held, that after the advent of the true Messiah no animal sacrifice would be required, since he would himself effect all that can be hoped for by sacrifices; ‘the Messiah will deliver up his soul and pour it out unto death, and his blood will atone the people of the Lord.’”[3] While as LDS we understand that animal sacrifice will once again, for a period, be carried out in the temple that will follow Ezekiel’s vision of the last days, the essence of this Kabbalistic statement is true.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke about the process of being marred, “Because living prophets are so precious a presence on the human scene, adversarial efforts to diminish and to mar them—past and present—should not be surprising. These men are thus called upon to endure efforts to ‘mar’ them. The word mar, as used in certain scriptures, suggests to ‘spoil to a certain extent or to render less attractive,’ as if one were to mar furniture by scratching its surface but not harming its substance. Isaiah speaks of the Lord’s servant whose ‘visage’ (or appearance) is marred (Isaiah 52:14). The resurrected Jesus speaks of a ‘great and marvelous work’ which will not be believed by many, ‘although a man shall declare it unto them.’ This latter-day servant who was to bring Christ’s word forth ‘shall be marred    … Yet … I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil’ (3 Nephi 21:9–10).

The Doctrine and Covenants (10:43) uses those same last words (about the wisdom of the Lord proving greater than the cunning of the devil) in reference to Joseph Smith and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith, Sr., gave a father’s blessing to the Prophet Joseph on 9 December 1834. In part of that blessing, Father Smith quoted from ancient Joseph, who wondered how his latter-day posterity would receive the word of God. Then ancient Joseph’s eyes beheld Joseph Smith, Jr., to be raised up in the last days. Ancient Joseph’s soul was satisfied and he wept. Ancient Joseph was quoted by Father Smith as saying that the choice seer to arise ‘shall meditate great wisdom, [and his] intelligence shall circumscribe and comprehend the deep things of God, … though the wicked mar him for a little season.’ Church members should not be surprised, therefore, if enemies seek to ‘mar’ prophets and the Presidents of the Church, or the Church itself, by seeming to render it, or us as members, less attractive and influential, thus causing some to turn away from or to discount the Lord’s work and His servants.

One of the early Twelve, Elder Orson Hyde, observed that the ‘shafts’ intended for the Church ‘are always aimed at the head first.’ Being marred can be part of the experience of discipleship: ‘Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake’ (Matthew 5:11). If we as members are likewise ‘marred’ while doing the Lord’s work, it will prove to be yet another dimension of sharing the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (see Philippians 3:10).”[4]

2 Nephi 6 - Jesus Christ being crucifiedThe Savior was marred (see Elder McConkie, The Mortal Messiah) through His suffering and is also now being marred by evil speech. The Savior, in His visit to the American Continent, quoted Isaiah 52:14 (see 3 Nephi 21:10) and spoke of a servant who would yet be marred, through the How Beautiful Feet Principle in the future. The Prophet Joseph Smith was also frequently punished physically and hated by many: “He [the angel] called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people” (JS–History 1:33).

The Jewish scholars and Rabbis have ironically spoken much about the suffering Messiah, of Isaiah ben Joseph, or more specifically, Isaiah ben Ephraim (see Driver & & Neubauer, pp. 16, 32, 162, 300–303, 321, 390, 394). Some Christian exegetes have felt that this has been an effort to deny suffering to Messiah ben Judah or Messiah ben David.

“And his form more than the sons of men:” The Savior’s suffering was indeed more profound than that of any man and He bled from every pore for us.

“So shall he sprinkle [Book of Mormon] gather [Inspired Version] many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him; for [that] which had not been told them shall they see; and [that] which they had not heard shall they consider.” —Isaiah 52:15

So shall he sprinkle / gather many nations.” We shall consider both at the KJV and Book of Mormon sprinkle as well as the Inspired Version gather.

Sprinkle, יַזֶּה. Birks exquisitely says—and all of my soul rejoices to contemplate it—and the Spirit testifies of the truthfulness of the atonement: “When the first covenant was confirmed at Sinai, Moses sprinkled the people with the blood of sacrifice, Exodus 24:8.[5] But this Prophet, like unto Moses, will sprinkle not one, but many nations, with the blood, not of oxen or rams, but of His own perfect sacrifice, and thus will bring them within the pale of a new and better covenant. Their kings shall shut their mouths at Him in mute wonder and reverence.”

Wordsworth says: “It [i.e., sprinkle] is specially applied both to describe the sprinkling with the blood of atonement, on the great day of atonement, and with the water of purification[6] (see Leviticus 4:6; 14:7; 16:14, 18, 19; Numbers 19:19).”

Gather. Some exegetes have suggested various possibilities, including scattered as in the Targum, the very opposite of gather. Cheyne writes: “So shall he * many nations] A most difficult passage.” So much so that Cheyne puts an asterisk to replace the word. Lowth writes: “I retain the common rendering, though I am by no means satisfied with it.” The inspired version uses gather.

Neubauer & Driver quote the Older Nizzahon: “If the prophet had meant to say that he would gather many nations to his religion, he should have written יקרב (will bring near or attract[7]), rather than יזה (will sprinkle or scatter).” I find it interesting, however, that the Older Nizzahon even brings up the subject of gathering. But Schiller-Szinessy[8] says, which coincide exactly with the Inspired Version: “The fact is, יזה here comes from the root וזה to accumulate, to gather, to attract.”

I worked for weeks trying to find additional information on the Hebrew יזה. Gladly, a Logos Bible Software colleague directed me to the Gesenius reference which I had missed: “יָזָה an unused root. Arab. وزى to gather selves together,” as well as the Emphasized Bible, which under Isaiah 52:15 says: “gather to himself” and more importantly, gives Fuerst’s Hebrew Lexicon (Williams & Norgate, 1871) as a reference. In the 1867 version of the Fürst Lexicon (see pp. 917–918) we find additional information of great interest: “נָזָה II. (Kal not used), intr. same as יָזָה (which see) to go together. Deriv. the proper name יִזִּיָּה.[9] Hif. (future יַזֶּה) to collect, Isaiah 52:14–15, like as many were amazed at him—and therefore fled from him—will he now gather to himself many nations. The versions have thought sometimes of expiating, purifying, sometimes of causing to exult; but the explanation now given is the most suitable.”[10]

After speaking of the mortal Messiah in the meridian of times Isaiah returns to speak of the latter-day when the good news or the Gospel would be preached through the Book of Mormon and the Bible and help gather Israel from all the nations of the earth. This is what I believe the word gather means in the context of Isaiah 52:15, but I also like the concept of attracting people to Christ, because else, why would they gather in the first place?

“The kings shall shut their mouths at him.” The Targum (????) says, “Before Him kings shall keep silence: they shall put their hands upon their mouths.” Rabbi Metsudath David, in Slotki/Rosenberg, says: “In amazement at the exaltation of the despised servant.” Keith says: “The expression ‘kings shall shut their mouths,’ denotes silence and subjection. Instead of taking counsel together any more against him, ‘all kings shall fall down before him, all nations shall serve him’ (Psalm 72:11).”

Wade explains: “Shall shut their mouths at him] Better, shall shut their mouths because of him, i.e. shall be awed into silence at the wonderful change in his condition (cf. Job 29:9; 40:4; Micah 7:16).” Nägelsbach writes: “in the same degree that one was horrified at Him, He will also provoke joyful wonder and reverence.” Similarly Alexander: “His exaltation shall bear due proportion to his humiliation; the contempt of men shall be exchanged for wonder and respect.” Kay says: “As His degradation was most surprising, exceeding any in human history; so shall His exaltation be. Many had looked wonderingly on Him as a wretched criminal …”

Orson PrattElder Orson Pratt has tied this verse to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ after the restoration: “Now Moses has told us of that time, and it is repeated again in the 3rd chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, that the Lord would raise up a Prophet, and it should come to pass that every soul that would not hear that Prophet should be cut off from among the people. We are told that that Prophet was Jesus, and we believe it. Jesus Christ was that Prophet, and the day is to come, as sure as the Lord lives in yonder heavens, when every soul that will not repent, and receive his work, will be literally cut off from among the people, just as Moses has predicted.[11] And it shall come to pass that ’kings shall shut their mouths: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they have not heard shall they behold,’ a marvelous work and a wonder, a work that the Lord would perform in the latter days. A strange work, a strange act, so-called by Isaiah the Prophet.”[12]

Of some of these same verses in 3 Nephi 21, the Savior seems to liken some of these Scriptures to the latter-day restoration of the Gospel and even to Joseph Smith. For instance, the Savior said, “And when these things come to pass [such as the going forth of the Book of Mormon] that thy seed shall begin to know these things [speaking of the Lamanites]—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel. And when that day shall come, it shall come to pass that kings shall shut their mouths; for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them” (3 Nephi 21:7–9).

“For that which had not been told them shall they see.” The LXX (????) reads, “Because they, to whom no publication was made concerning him, shall see.” As we read in Isaiah 40:5: “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” So it is that all shall see Him so that it will not be necessary for anyone to tell them about it. In Habakkuk 2:14 we read: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” In Jeremiah 31:34a we read: “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”

“And that which they had not heard shall they consider.” The LXX (????) and Peshitta (????) suggest understand rather than consider. Skinner writes: “for that which had not been told them] The meaning is either that the exaltation of the Servant is an event of which they had received no announcement beforehand, or that it is one the like of which had never been known.”


[1] The Karaites are a Jewish group who reject rabbinical traditions and lean heavily on the Hebrew Scriptures, that is, the Old Testament. For more information see The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901–1906), 7:438, New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls.

[2] “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper [וְהִשְׂכִּיל  root שָׂכַל], and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” (Jeremiah 23:5). ASV says: “Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”

[3] Kalisch, M. M. A Historical and Critical Commentary on the Old Testament with a new translation. Leviticus, Part I. English or Abridged Edition. 1867. Urwick uses a different edition, p. 59. The 1867 edition has the quote in p. 46. Kalisch also points us to Isaiah 53:12.

[4] Maxwell, Neal A. If Thou Endure It Well. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996, pp. 71–72.

[5] See also the numerous references to the sprinkling of blood in the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, and temple services in anticipation to the atonement by the Son of Man.

[6] Not a few Christian commentators mention that sprinkling meant baptism, so I was pleased to find Schiller-Szinessy’s comments here that the earliest form of baptism was through immersion, not by sprinkling.

[7] Gesenius says “to draw near.”

[8] The author of this dissertation says of himself: “I am now 61 years of age, and I so loved the Hebrew Bible in my youth that I knew the whole of it by heart before I was ten years old. But, although the whole Bible has ever been dear to me, my favourite prophet has always been Isaiah. Him I studied under Jews, Rabbanites and Quaraites; him I studied under Christian, Roman Catholics and Protestants. He has ever been my thought by day, my dream in the night; my comfort in trouble, my exultation in happiness” (pp.6–7). An Exposition of Isaiah 52:13–15; and 53; Delivered before the Council of the Senate in the Law School on Friday, April 28, 1882, Cambridge.

[9] Pronounced something like Yiziyah, and in modern English it is sometimes written Izayah, both of which sound like the Hebrew pronunciation of Isaiah.

[10] Fuerst [Fürst], Dr. Julius, A Hebrew & Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, Professor at the University of Leipzig. Translated from the German by Samuel Davidson, D.D. of the University of Halle. London, Williams & Norgate. 1867 (3rd edition). First German Edition was published in 1857.

[11]  “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren [Jesus Christ], like unto thee [Moses], and will put my words in his mouth [see Isaiah 51:16]]; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him [shall be cut off or suffer the consequences for such disobedience]” (Deuteronomy 18:18–19).

[12] Pratt, Elder Orson. “Gathering of Israel, Etc.” Journal of Discourses, Vol. 18, No. 4, 11 April 1875, pp. 28–29.

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Gregorio Billikopf belongs to the Llanquihue Branch, Puerto Montt Stake, in the south of Chile. He is the author of Isaiah Testifies of Christ and an emeritus academic of the University of California and professor of the University of Chile; author of Party-Directed Mediation: Facilitating Dialogue between Individuals and other books. Gregorio’s paternal grandparents are Lithuanian Jews and German Jews and on his mother’s side of the family he is Chilean. He found Christ through reading the Book of Mormon. You may contact him through


  1. Gregorio, this is such an excellent treatment of the subject. I know this is a four-part series and I am already looking forward to your next selection. However, I am a little confused about the differences between Messiah ben Judah and Messiah ben David. Can you help me understand?

  2. Thanks, Darryl, for your kind comments and for your interesting question. Messiah ben Judah and Messiah ben David are two ways of expressing the same thing, when it comes to our beloved Savior. Our Redeemer, Jesus the Christ, was a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through David, who in turn was a descendant of Judah (one of the twelve sons of Jacob or Israel). David, in turn, was a descendant of Judah. So essentially, any time we say ben David, or son of David, we are automatically saying ben Judah, or son of Judah (but not the other way around, not all who are ben Judah are also ben David. Former-day Jews, for instance, were descendants of Judah, but may or may not have also been descendants of David. Modern-day Jews, most likely, are both as it would be almost impossible not to have the blood of David intermixed at some point.) But I am wondering if you are asking a different question, why do we sometimes hear of Messiah ben David as contrasted with Messiah ben Joseph? Was that your intended question?


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