|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 22||Part 1|
Isaiah 52:13, "Behold my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high." In this and the verses that follow until the end of chapter 53 the Christians assert, that the prophecy of Isaiah constitutes a prediction of Jesus, the Nazarene, concerning whom Isaiah has said, "He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high," because to him alone it is asserted these words can be attributed, "Surely he has borne our sicknesses and our pains. He was wounded by our transgressions and oppressed by our iniquities." For he is said to have, by his death, saved their souls from the power of Satan.
Refutation.—This assertion lacks truth, Scripture having declared, "Behold my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted," etc.; how can these words be made to refer to Jesus, after they (the Christians) inconsiderately represent him to be God? If he were a Divine Being, how could the prophet call him a servant? The Christian disputant may say, that in a corporeal respect he was called servant, and in a spiritual respect he was entitled God." To this defense we object, by referring the reader to chapter 10, where we have given comprehensive proofs of the non-divinity of Christ, by showing that, by the authors of the Gospel, he was not considered to be a God, and much less so by himself. This matter shall again be noticed in the second part of this work; when we shall refute the several passages of importance relative to the subject in the gospel. We may be permitted to mention here that the prophetic word, "He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high," were not fulfilled in Jesus, he having been condemned to death in an inglorious manner, and thus the prophecy was not realized in him—"He shall see seed and live many days," for he had no offspring. His disciples cannot be called his offspring, though the word בָּנִים (sons) is applicable to them, and אֲבוֹת (fathers) to the teachers. The word זֶרַע (seed) is used in the bible only for bodily heirs; nor do we find that Jesus reached an old age, for he was put to death when thirty-three years of age. We cannot apply the words, "he shall live long" (English version, "prolong his days") to a Divine Being, for the term of longevity is inappropriate to the Deity who is the Prime Cause of all existence, and whose self-existence is eternal; moreover, we wish to know to whom will the Christians attribute the promise, "Therefore will I apportion unto him spoil among the many, and with mighty man he shall share the spoil." Who are the many and mighty men with whom Jesus is to partake in the spoil? And to whom refer the words, "And he entreated for the transgressors?" Did Jesus, who, according to their futile notions, was styled a God, pray for transgressors? Many more such queries suggest themselves on this theme, but we will first examine the true import of the chapter. The words, "Behold my servant shall prosper," to the end of the 53rd chapter, concern the people of Israel, who are still bearing the yoke of this captivity, and are termed my servant in the singular number, which expression is used in many other places; for example, Isaiah 41:8-9, "And thou, O Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend." Again, "And I say unto thee, Thou art my servant." In chapter 44:21, Isaiah says, "And now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen;" and further on, "Fear not, my servant Jacob;" and "Remember these things, O Jacob and Israel, for thou art my servant." "I have formed thee to be my servant." Ibid 45:4, "For the sake of Jacob my servant and Israel my chosen one." We find also in the Prophecies of Jeremiah (30:10), "Fear not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord, and be not dismayed, O Israel." The same is repeated, "Fear not, O Jacob my servant, saith the Lord." Similar expressions occur in the Psalms. Psalm 136:22, "An inheritance to Jacob his servant," etc. All these passages afford an evidence that the term servant in the singular is frequently addressed to the whole people of Israel. The same form of address in the singular is used in the delivery of the ten commandments, though directed to an assembly of six hundred thousand persons.
We may be asked, What connection with Israel has the following passage in Isaiah 53:4-5: "Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our pains, and we considered him plagued, stricken by God, and afflicted. And he was wounded by our transgressions, and bruised by our iniquities. The chastisement for the sake of our weal came upon him, and by his wounds we were healed." It may be alleged, that it has never been known at any period that the people of Israel have borne the sicknesses, the pains, and the wounds due to the iniquity of other nations; and whatever afflictions and troubles Israel have endured, came upon them on account of their own sins, and not for those of other nation.
In our reply to this objection, we will show, first, that the prophets frequently designate humiliations and adversities by the name of sickness and wounds. Compare Isaiah 1:5-6, "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint, from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores." And again in 30:26, "In the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the sore of their wound." In like manner, Hosea 6:1, "He has torn and He will heal us. He hath smitten and He will bind up." Lamentations 2:13, "For thy breach is great like the sea, who can heal thee?" Jeremiah 10:19, "Woe is me for my hurt, my wound is grievous, and I said, This is my sickness, and I must bear it." Afterwards he explains the meaning of this fracture, this sore, and this sickness, by exclaiming (ibid verse 20), "My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken; my children are gone forth from me, and they are not," etc. Ibid 30:12, "For thus saith the Lord, Thy fracture is mortifying, thy wound is exceedingly sore." Soon afterwards the consolation is given in the words in verse 17, "I shall bring relief unto thee and heal thee from thy wounds." The prophet then explains in what the healing and relief are to consist, viz. (verse 18), "Thus speaketh the Lord, I shall bring back the captivity of thy tents, O Jacob, and I shall have compassion on its inhabitants, and the city shall be built on its ruins, and the palace shall stand in its proper place. There shall again proceed forth from them thanksgiving and the voice of mirth, and I shall increase them, and they shall not be diminished," etc. In chapter 33:6 to 8, he says, "I bring up into it a remedy and healing, and I shall heal them." Therefore, he explains in what the remedy and healing will consist, in the words, "And I shall bring back the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Jerusalem, and I shall build them as formerly, and I shall cleanse them from all their iniquities which they have committed against me," etc.
From all these verses it appears, that Scripture designates the captivity as attended with calamities, and describes the troubles that took place during the exile under the names of bruises and wounds—but redemption, enlargement, and deliverance, Scripture depicts by the terms of curing and healing. Now, with the prophecy, "My servant shall be prosperous," we receive comfort, and strengthening of our hearts—although we are lowered deeply, and trodden down to the ground by reason of our captivity, hope is offered us for the future; and through the mercy of the Lord, we shall be raised, and exalted, and promoted to a high degree. When the days of restoration dawn upon us, the Gentile nations, together with their rulers, in witnessing the deliverance of Israel, and their elevation to a most exalted rank, will be greatly amazed—as they previously have been at our degradation during our captivity, when contumely and insult have been our lot from all nations of the earth—so they will express their wonder at our improved condition, and they will say, one to the other, "Now it is manifest to us, that we have all strayed like a flock without a shepherd; each of us has turned his own way; our fathers inherited fallacy and vanity, in which there is no profit; no Divine law, nor any true faith, is belonging to any nation of the world except the people of Israel. The plagues and the torments which the Israelites have borne in captivity have not come upon them on account of their sins: we, ourselves, ought to have borne the trouble and the chastisements on account of the greatness of our iniquity. Surely, the sickness and the pain which ought to have come upon us, came upon them, to atone for our sins: while they were servants under our authority, while they have interceded for our welfare, and the success of our kingdoms—yet we considered it differently—namely, that on account of the greatness of their sin, for inflicting death on our Messiah, who is our God, these great calamities have befallen them." So far will go the words of the Gentiles.
Here we may mention, that the Gentiles are not responsible for their trespasses in the same manner as those to whom the will of God has been revealed. Only when their iniquity is outrageous, when their ill-treatment of righteous Israelites is aggravated, when the enormities inflicted on the Israelites equaled the chastisements imposed upon those who perished by the Deluge, or of those who shared the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah—it will be then the Lord will visit their iniquities, and bring total destruction upon them: though permitting the suffering and persecution of Israel, he will not allow actual extinction. This forbearance towards us is expressed in Jeremiah 30:11, "For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee. For I shall make an end of all the Gentiles among whom I have scattered thee; but of thee I shall not make an end; I shall correct thee in measure, but I will not hold thee guiltless." Amos, likewise, notices in his book, chapter 3:2, "I have known you from all the families of the earth; on that account, I shall visit upon you all your sins:" and in the Proverbs 3:12 we find, "Him whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth," etc., "and he shall cleave to the house of Jacob." The punishments of Israel are not only for their own good, but also for that of other nations. Hence, Isaiah prophesied concerning the restoration of Israel, chapter 14:1, "And strangers shall be joined with them." It is well known that Israel is the chosen nation concerning whom it is recorded in Exodus (chapter 19:5), "And ye shall be unto me a peculiar people from among all the nations; for mine is the earth." All this tends to prove, that the Almighty revealed His law to Israel for the purpose that they should learn to walk in the right way, and to perform righteous deeds. With this distinguished gift for themselves, He has coupled the noble mission that they should become useful to other nations; "For His mercy extends to all His creatures." With a view to Israel’s instrumentality in His Divine government, we find (in Exodus 19:6), "And they shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." And to the same purport says Isaiah (chapter 61:6), "And ye shall be named the priests of the Lord; ye shall be called the servants of our God." "Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory ye shall triumph." In numerous parts of the Scripture, the people of Israel are called priests, it being the duty of that class to inculcate religious duties and precepts, and to "teach Jacob judgments, and Israel the Law." Thus, it is our vocation to instruct, in the law of the living God, the Gentiles, among whom we are dispersed; and as the Psalmist says, in Psalm 96:3, to "relate His glory among the Gentiles, His wonderful works among the nations."
All future felicity of the Gentiles will proceed from Israel, as has been assured to our patriarchs, (see Genesis 12:3), "And in thee all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;" and ibid 28:14, "And through thee and thy seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Here we have an additional testimony that the people of Israel are graciously distinguished, the Almighty having appointed them as His portion and inheritance, (see Psalm 135:4), "The Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, and Israel as His distinct," (people), or in other words of Scripture, Deuteronomy 32:9, "For his people are the portion of the Lord, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." The law has, therefore, been given to us, with the intention that we should teach to other nations the ways of the Lord. When the guide pursues the right road those who follow will safely reach the end of the journey, while the stragglers will undoubtedly lose their way altogether. Therefore must those who wish to arrive at their destination keep close to their leaders; and thus, at a future day, according to the prophecy of Zechariah 8:23, "Ten men from the Gentiles of various tongues shall take hold of the garment of the Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." The felicity of Israel will be shared by those who associate with them in the same manner as Jethro (and his descendents who settled in Palestine) shared in the welfare of our people according to the promise of Moses, Numbers 10:32, "And it will come to pass, if thou will go with us, that all the good which the Lord will do unto us we will do unto thee." In Jeremiah 35:19, there is a further evidence that the promise given by Moses was fulfilled. The prophet says, "There shall never be wanting to Jonadab, the son of Rechab, a man to stand before me." Here the words, "to stand" mean to endure, to last, in conformity with the phrase used in Isaiah 66:22, "As the new Heavens and the new earth shall stand before me, saith the Lord, so shall stand your seed and your name."
Returning again to the examination of Isaiah 53, we have to notice, that, at the time of the restoration, the followers of the Jews will escape unhurt from all the troubles incident to wandering strangers. The Jews will resemble those warriors who, standing foremost, are exposed to the most imminent perils, and nevertheless, when the enemies shall be conquered, those who are in the rear shall equally share in the spoil, although not exposed to the same amount of danger. Hence Isaiah 53:5, says, metaphorically, "He is pierced for the sake of our transgressions, he is bruised for the sake of our iniquity, the chastisement for our good comes upon him, and through his sore we are healed." The prophet, proceeding (ibid verse 12), in the same figure of speech, alludes to the spoil allotted to the front ranks of the divine army of the Israelites, and says, "Therefore will I give him his portion among the many, and with the mighty he shall divide spoil, because he has exposed himself to death, and has been counted among sinners, and has borne the iniquity of many, and interceded for transgressors."
From previous as well as subsequent verses, the reader is enabled to judge that the inspired writings treat solely on the calamities which Israel has to endure during the captivity, and that compensation will be granted to them from the time of their redemption from the captivity. See, for instance, Isaiah 52:1, "Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion, put on the garments of thy glory, O Jerusalem, thou holy city, for there shall no more enter thee the uncircumcised and the unclean." Now this passage is succeeded by the words [Isaiah 52:12], "For not speedily shall ye go forth; ye shall not go in by flight, for the Lord is going before you, and the God of Israel is gathering you." Then follow these words [Isaiah 52:13], "Behold, my servant shall prosper." Chapter 54:1, commences, "Rejoice, thou barren woman who hast not borne;" and the verses which follow equally indicate Israel’s final redemption. All these Divine promises are strictly connected with the gracious assurance laid down. Ibid 51:22, "Thus saith thy Sovereign, the Lord my God, who pleadeth the cause of His people; behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury, thou shalt drink it no more." The same harmony is evident between the expression, "No uncircumcised and unclean shall enter there," and the oath contained in chapter 54:9, 10, "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee; neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee." Having now dwelt generally on the prophecy relative to the restoration of Israel, we shall examine, more closely, each particular expression.
Isaiah 52:13, "Behold my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised and exalted, and be very great."
The word יַשְׂכִּיל "he shall prosper," is found again in the 1st Samuel 18:14, "And David was prosperous in all his ways." "My servant shall prosper," relates to that period when Israel shall leave the countries of its captivity, and be elevated to the highest degree of happiness. "As many were astonished at thee, so was his appearance deteriorated more than that of any man, and his form more than that of the sons of men." The word astonished expresses the surprise which will be felt, and is used in the same sense in Ezekiel 28:19, "And all who knew thee among the nations were astonished at thee." The astonishment is to be felt by those who are to consider "thy (Israel’s) deep humiliation, and the duration of thy captivity; and they shall say one to the other, [Isaiah 52:14] ‘Truly, his appearance is deteriorated more than any man, and his form more than that of the sons of men.’" And indeed it has become proverbial among the Gentiles, to exclaim, at the wretched appearance of their neighbor, "he looks as miserable as a Jew."
[Isaiah 52:15] "Thus, he shall startle many nations, the kings shall shut their mouths against him, for what has not been told them they have seen, and what they have not heard they have understood."
The prophet Isaiah means to say, that in the same manner as the Gentiles formerly were amazed at the depth of humiliation into which we had been thrown, they shall, at a future period, be astounded at the height of distinction at which we shall arrive; and they shall then say to each other, "who would have believed the report brought to us?" etc. The kings themselves shall remain dumb and speechless. The verb יִקְפְּצוּ they shall keep (their mouths) closed or shut, if similarly used in Job 5:16, וְעֹלָתָה קָפְצָה פִּיהָ "and wickedness closed its mouth." With the above prophecy of Isaiah agrees, also, the prophet Micah, chapter 7:10, "Gentiles shall see it, and be ashamed," in spite of all their strength; and they lay their hands on their mouths when perceiving that our distinctions shall surpass every description and prediction: (Isaiah 53:1) "Who would have believed the report we have heard; and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" This shall be said by the Gentiles at the site of Israel’s prosperity. "We (shall they exclaim), we have put no faith in the hearsay that reached us through the prophets, and now we perceive with our own eyes that more has been done than we had heard; for how could we conceive that the omnipotence of the Almighty would manifest itself especially on behalf of such an insignificant and disregarded people!"
"He grew up before him like a sucking babe, like a root on parched land, without form, without beauty that we might look at him, without comeliness that we might find pleasure in him."
The purport of this is, that the Gentiles shall declare the rise of Israel is just as preternatural as if a branch were to grow from parched ground. "While groaning under the yoke of his captivity, how could we suppose that he could endure the burdens imposed on him? When we consider their wasted body, and saw them groping their way like the blind, we did, indeed, not envy and covet their lot; but on the contrary, we vilified and spurned them. Isaiah 53:3, "He was despised and the least of men; a man of pains, and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom man hideth his countenance, he was despised, and we esteemed him not." This means, How should we (Gentiles) have envied his (the Jew’s) lot who was the most despised and abject of the children of men; who was accustomed to load himself with all the troubles and torments of his exile, which may be compared to pains and diseases. On account of his extraordinary inferiority and degradation we despised him, hiding our faces from him, being unwilling to notice him. Isaiah 53:4, "However, he hath borne our diseases, and carried our pains, and we esteemed him smitten of God and afflicted."
This means—The Gentiles after having perceived, by ocular evidence, that he (the Jew) has the truth on his side, they shall say: "We have all wandered like sheep, the miseries and persecutions of the captivity have not befallen him on account of his own iniquity, but ought to have come upon us on account of our iniquity; and while we believe that he underwent trials and chastisements in retribution for his rebellion to God, he (the Jew) suffered in consequence of the transgressions of the Gentiles. [Isaiah 53:5] "And he was tormented on account of our transgressions; he was bruised on account of our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises, we were healed." The word מְחֹלָל (afflicted) is related to חִיל (pain as women in labor).
The phrase "the chastisement of our peace was upon him," indicates that this life presents a world of change and vicissitude, no enjoyment is complete and perfect; there is no state of peace without struggle; there is no quietude without an intermixture of strife and contention, and there is no gladness and enjoyment without sorrow and contrition. All pleasures and delights are intermingled with evils. Hence we (Gentiles) see clearly that "the chastisement of our peace has come upon him;" that is to say, we (Gentiles) have acquired a state of peace, but the struggles by which it was obtained fell to his (the Jew’s) lot. Thus he (the Jew) received wounds and bruises, as results of his captivity, while we derived from his vicissitudes healing and restoration, viz., prosperity and dominion. The word נִרְפָּא (healed) is used in an analogous sense, in Exodus 15:26, "For I the Lord am He who healeth thee," which sentence accords with the preceding words, "All the diseases which I put upon the Egyptians, I shall not put upon thee."
The word וּבַחֲבֻרָתוֹ means "by his bruises." The omission of the Dagesh, in the second radical letter, has led some to interpret it "in his society." Those expositors compare the word with that occurring in Hosea 4:17, viz., חֲבוּר עֲצַבִּים אֶפְרָיִם "Ephraim is associated with Idols," etc. In that case, it would seem that we (Gentiles) praying to God in society, or in conjunction with them (the Jews), the Almighty listened to our entreaties and sent us relief from our afflictions. Isaiah 53:6, "We all strayed like sheep, each of us turned to his own way; and the Lord visited on him the iniquity of us all."
This means—The Gentiles will make confession of their guilt, by acknowledging that the Lord is truly and entirely with Israel, and that they (the Gentiles) strayed like a shepherdless flock, every man following his own way, and each people worshipping his peculiar god: "but now," will they say, "now we know that our idols are not gods."
In corroboration of this we find, in Jeremiah 16:19, 20, "To thee nations will come from the corners of the earth, and they will say, Surely our fathers inherited falsehood, vanity in which there is no profit." Moreover we read there, shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are not gods? (thus the Gentiles will continue their self accusations) "We have deserved a most rigorous punishment, but the Lord visited and cast our punishment upon Israel. He has hitherto labored for our sake and borne our yoke and our tribulations, henceforward we will freely and cheerfully labor for him, and subject ourselves to him."
Therefore Isaiah says, 61:5, "And strangers shall stand forth and feed your flocks," etc. With the same view that prophet says (chapter 49:23), "And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down their faces to the ground before thee, and they shall lick the dust off thy feet, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord, and that those who hope in me shall not be put to shame."
Isaiah 53:7, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." For (will the Gentiles say concerning the Israelites) while that people was held captive under our power we extorted from them contributions under various pretexts, and by means of false accusations. We inflicted on them bodily torments, yet they showed patient endurance under them, and remained silent and calm like the lamb when led to the slaughter, and like the weak defenseless sheep submitting to the shearers.
This condition of Israel is prefigured in the complaint in Psalm 44:12 [44:11], "Thou givest us away like the sheep that is to be consumed." A similar comparison is made by Jeremiah (chapter 50:17), "Israel is like a scattered flock, the lions have chased them away: first, the king of Assyria has devoured them; and lastly, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has crushed them. Isaiah 53:8, "He was taken away from prison and severe judgment, and who shall speak of his generation? For he was cut off from the land of the living, and through the transgression of my people he was stricken."
This means—That by this time the Israelites will have escaped the direful oppressions to which they had been subjected during their exile; and it will then be manifest that no human language can supply an adequate description of the incessant afflictions endured by the Jews, and of their unswerving belief in the only One God. Then will the Gentiles acknowledge that the visitation which befell the Jews tended less to illustrate the sinfulness of the victims, than the depravity of the persecutors. The word "transgression" is followed by the expression, "my people," for each nation will attribute to itself the consequences of the malignity to which Israel had been exposed.
Isaiah 53:9, "And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich his tomb, although he had done no wrong, and no guile had been in his mouth."
This means—That, in honor of his religion, the Israelite use to expose himself freely to martyrdom, as is confirmed by the above-cited allusion to it in Psalm 44:23 [44:22], "For on account of thee, we are slain all the day, for we are considered like sheep for slaughter, for we have constantly been attacked by false accusation, through which they sought to inflict on us the retributions due to the guilty."
In all such cases the persecuted parties were not offenders, and we Gentiles felt incensed because the Israelites would not conform to our ill-founded dogmas, and "would not hold deceit in their mouths." For even to escape death the Israelites would not make a confession with their lips to which their hearts must give an utter denial. Isaiah 53:10, "And it pleased the Lord to humble him. He afflicted him with ailment. Since his soul has offered itself as a sacrifice, he shall see seed and live long, and the delight of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."
This means—Since Israel has so firmly adhered to the divine law, and has subjected himself to death under religious persecution, we [Gentiles] see no other object for the infliction and chastisements, except that the Almighty visits him with punishments in order to humble and to try him with a view to compensate him for his submission: therefore, in sharing his grave with the Israelite he shall see seed, that is to say, become exceedingly numerous. This elliptical mode of omitting the word expressive of excess and largeness occurs also in Numbers 13:32, where we find אַנְשֵׁי מִדּוֹת "Men of size," that is, men of large or gigantic size. Other prophets also contribute their testimony to the future increase of Israel. See, for instance, Zechariah 10:8, "I will hiss for them and gather them, for I have redeemed them, and they shall increase as they have increased."
In the same chapter the prophet foretells: [Zechariah 10:10] "I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, and it shall not be large enough for them" (English Version, "no place found for them"). Ezekiel 36:37, has on the same subject the following prophecy: "I will increase them with men as a flock." The words "he shall live long" have a parallel in Isaiah 65:22, "For as the days of the tree shall be the days of my people." Zechariah says, in chapter 8:4, "And every man (shall sit) with his staff in his hand for very age."
The Almighty in afflicting and humbling us during our captivity purposes, therefore, to bring to pass our ultimate benefit, and to strengthen our number in the time of our restoration. This is confirmed in Deuteronomy 30:5, "And He will make thee better and more numerous than thy fathers were." So far go the words which convey the restoration of Israel. The last two verses of the chapter contain the promise added by the Almighty (Isaiah 53:11), "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant make many righteous, for he shall bear their iniquities." The words, "by his knowledge," are thus illustrated in Jeremiah 31:34, "For they all shall know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them." "He shall make many people righteous," means that Israel shall impart its knowledge of righteousness to the Gentiles. See on this point Micah 4:2, "And many nations shall come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Hence, Israel, the servant of the Lord, shall, by his righteousness, remove the wickedness of the Gentiles, and through his righteousness peace and happiness shall reign among mankind at large, Isaiah 53:12, "Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great, and with the mighty he shall divide the spoil; because he poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many, and prayed for the transgressor."
This means—I shall allot him a portion and a reward among the greatest and worthiest men that lived on earth, viz., among the patriarchs and holy prophets.
The allotment will consist in spiritual beatitude which far surpasses all corporeal well-being. The translation of רַבִּים (great) is justified by the occurrence of וְרַב in Genesis 25:23, "And the greater [in the English Version, the elder] shall serve the younger." But worldly prosperity is likewise promised in Isaiah’s prophecy, as he says, "And with the mighty he shall divide the spoil." "The mighty" are the hosts of Gog and Magog, and the nations who will come to carry on war with Jerusalem, and who will be removed by sudden death. See Ezekiel 38:22, "I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood, and I will pour down floods of rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him," etc. Israel shall then partake of the spoil and property in retribution of the extortion and depredation formerly practiced towards Israel. See Zechariah 14:14, "And the wealth of all heathen shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and raiment in great abundance."
Thus Israel shall be compensated for the bodily and mental suffering heaped upon them during their exile.
In that epoch, life shall be ransomed by life and property by property. This is intended by the words, "Because he poured forth his soul unto death." The verb הֶעֱרָה "he poured forth" (from the root ע.ר.ה) is synonymous with the expression in Genesis 24:20, "And she poured forth her pitcher," etc.
"And he was numbered with the transgressors" is analogous to the sentence, "And he made his grave with the wicked." That is to say, the gentiles treated Israel as a wicked, ungodly race, and, therefore, these exuberant blessing shall now be bestowed unto Israel which are reserved for the upright and God-fearing men, and those who revere His name like the holy patriarchs and the prophets of our people. "He bore the sin of many" means, he was not only free from the wickedness imputed to him by the gentiles, but through his piety he bore their sins and suffered for their iniquity. At the same time he prayed for those nations who had inflicted on him heavy sufferings, and besought the Almighty to grant prosperity and abundance to the kingdoms of the gentiles. See Jeremiah 29:7, "And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried captive, and pray unto the Lord for it," etc. With the same tolerant spirit our Rabbis admonish us thus: "Pray for the prosperity of thy native country." The prayers we offer up to the Almighty are an evidence of our submission to this precept. We pray for the long life and happiness of our gentile rulers, and we address other prayers all tending to prove the interest we take in the welfare of other nations; we pray for the fertility of their land and for the plentiful supply of food required for the nourishment of all.