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ing of the original, produce any material alteration in the sense of the prophecy. Compare the common translation with that of bishop Lowth, and the difference is not considerable. So far as they do differ, bishop Lowth's corrections, which are the faithful result of an accurate examination, bring the description nearer to the New Testament history than it was before. In the fourth verse of the fifty-third chapter, what our Bible renders "stricken," he translates
judicially stricken:" and in the eighth verse, the clause," he was taken from prison and from judgement," the bishop gives, "by an oppressive judgement he was taken off." The next words to these, "who shall declare his generation?" are much cleared up in their meaning, by the bishop's version; "his manner of life who would declare?" i. e. who would stand forth in his defence? The former part of the ninth verse, "and he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death," which inverts the circumstances of Christ's passion, the bishop brings out in an order perfectly agreeable to the event; " and his grave was appointed with the wicked, but
with the rich man was his tomb." The
words in the eleventh verse, 66
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many," are, in the bishop's version," by the knowledge of him shall my righteous servant justify many."
It is natural to inquire what turn the Jews themselves give to this prophecy*. There is good proof that the ancient Rabbins explained it of their expected Messiah† : but their modern expositors concur, I think, in representing it as a description of the calamitous state and intended restoration of the Jewish people, who are here, as they say, exhibited under the character of a single person. I have not discovered that their exposition rests upon any critical arguments, or upon these in any other than a very minute degree. The clause in the eighth verse, which we render "for the transgression of my people was he stricken,"
* "Vaticinium hoc Esaia est carnificina Rabbinorum, de quo aliqui Judæi mihi confessi sunt, Rabbinos suos ex propheticis scripturis facilè se extricare potuisse, modò Esaias tacuisset." Hulse, Theol. Jud. p. 318, quoted by Poole, in loc. + Hulse, Theol. Jud. p. 430.
and in the margin," was the stroke upon him," the Jews read," for the transgression of my people was the stroke upon them." And what they allege in support of the alteration amounts only to this, that the Hebrew pronoun is capable of a plural, as well as of a singular signification; that is to say, is capable of their construction as well as ours*, And this is all the varia
*Bishop Lowth adopts in this place the reading of the Seventy, which gives smitten to death, "for the transgression of my people was he smitten to death." The addition of the words " to death," makes an end of the Jewish interpretation of the clause. And the authority upon which this reading (though not given by the present Hebrew text) is adopted, Dr. Kennicot has set forth by an argument not only so cogent, but so clear and popular, that I beg leave to transcribe the substance of it into this note :
Origen, after having quoted at large this prophecy concerning the Messiah, tells us, that having once made use of this passage, in a dispute against some that were accounted wise among the Jews, one of them replied that the words did not mean one man, but one people, the Jews, who were smitten of God, and dispersed among the Gentiles for their conversion; that he then urged many parts of this prophecy, to show the absurdity of this interpretation, and that he seemed to press them the hardest by this sentence,- for the transgression of my people was he smitten to death.' Now as Origen, the author of the Hexapla, must have understood Hebrew, we cannot suppose that he would have urged this last text as so decisive, if the Greek version had not agreed here with the Hebrew text; nor that these wise Jews
tion contended for; the rest of the prophecy they read as we do. The probability, therefore, of their exposition, is a subject of which we are as capable of judging as themselves. This judgement is open indeed to the good sense of every attentive reader. The application which the Jews contend for, appears to me to labour under insuperable difficulties; in particular, it be demanded of them to explain, in whose name or person, if the Jewish people be the sufferer, does the prophet
would have been at all distressed by this quotation, unless the Hebrew text had read agreeably to the words "to death," on which the argument principally depended; for, by quoting it immediately, they would have triumphed over him, and reprobated his Greek version. This, whenever they could do it, was their constant practice in their disputes with the Christians. Origen himself, who laboriously compared the Hebrew text with the Septuagint, has recorded the necessity of arguing with the Jews, from such passages only as were in the Septuagint agreeable to the Hebrew. Wherefore, as Origen had carefully compared the Greek version of the Septuagint with the Hebrew text; and as he puzzled and confounded the learned Jews, by urging upon them the reading "to death" in this place; it seems almost impossible not to conclude, both from Origen's argument, and the silence of his Jewish adversaries, that the Hebrew text at that time actually had the word agreeably to the version of the Seventy." Lowth's Isaiah, p. 242.
speak, when he says, "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted; but he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." Again, the description in the seventh verse, "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 her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth," quadrates with no part of the Jewish history with which we are acquainted. The mention of the "grave," and the "tomb," in the ninth verse, is not very applicable to the fortunes of a nation; and still less so is the conclusion of the prophecy in the twelfth verse, which expressly represents the sufferings as voluntary, and the sufferer as interceding for the offenders; " because he hath poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."