Isaiah 53 – The Suffering Servant: Israel or Messiah?


It is abundantly clear that the Most High has created a movement in these last days.  After thousands of years of blindness, and what seems to be out of nowhere; many have come back to his true worship – as it is commanded in the Torah, alongside a saving faith in the Son of Elohim. Within this movement, we also see the adversary has been busy as well — inserting doubt in the legitimacy of our Messiah.  Specifically, there is a doctrine that has been put forth that attempts to teach that Isaiah 53 is not pointing to a messianic suffering servant, but Israel as a whole, and therefore removes a major prophecy of the coming of Yahusha our Messiah.  Let’s take a look.


Isaiah 53: Anti-Messianic Main Points


(1) They believe the ‘servant’ mentioned at the end of Isaiah chapter 52 is Israel, not Messiah. They believe this same servant (Israel) continues into chapter 53.

(2) “Who believed our Report” (Isaiah 53:1) is supposedly the kings of the earth, which in their eyes, sets up the possibility that Israel (as a whole) is looked at as the suffering servant taking affliction on behalf of the world’s sins.

(3) The ‘suffering servant’ is not Messiah, but Israel as a whole (expounded).

(4) Isaiah 53:10 mentions the suffering servant’s seed. They say Yahusha did not procreate and have physical seed, therefore he cannot be the one mentioned.

(5) One man cannot die for another man’s sins, therefore Messiah’s death and atonement is not valid.

(6) There is “none other savior but YHWH” – Multiple instances in Isaiah leading up to chapter 53, which solidifies no need for a messiah other than YHWH.


Who is “The Servant” in Isaiah 52?


Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle 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 52:13-15


The claim – Many verses point to Israel as a people being the servant of YHWH, therefore the servant in Isaiah 52-53 must be Israel as a whole.

While many verses do pinpoint Israel as a nation to be the servant of Yahuah, the same case can be made for Messiah Yahusha himself, as we will demonstrate in a moment.  Let’s not forget that YHWH’s servant was also identified as:
Abraham (Gen 26:24)
Moses (Num 12:7)
Caleb (14:24)
David (2 Sam 3:18)
Job (Job 42:7)
Isaiah (Isaiah 20:3)

Here are some passages to consider:

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. For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith Yahuah Tseva’oth, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day
Zechariah 3:8-9

Now leading up to Isaiah 52-53:

And now, saith Yahuah that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of Yahuah, and my Elohim shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
Isaiah 49:5-6

As we can see, this servant (singular) brings back the tribes of Jacob (plural) — this servant cannot be Israel (Jacob) and have this passage make sense. If Israel was the suffering servant, then Yahuah would imply that Israel would save and bring back itself (this is not in Yahuah’s character – it is he who saves).  This passage is unequivocally a messianic prophecy. This servant is also prophesied to be the “light of the gentiles”.  This stems from what is found in 1st Enoch.


And in that place I saw the fountain of righteousness which was inexhaustible: and around it were many fountains of wisdom; and all the thirsty drank of them, and were filled with wisdom, and their dwellings were with the righteous and holy and elect. And at that hour that Son of Man was named In the presence of Yahuah Tseva’oth, and his name before the Head of Days. Yea, before the sun and the signs were created, before the stars of the heaven were made, His name was named before Yahuah Tseva’oth. He shall be a staff to the righteous whereon to stay themselves and not fall, and he shall be the light of the Gentiles, and the hope of those who are troubled of heart. All who dwell on earth shall fall down and worship before him, and will praise and bless and celebrate with song Yahuah Tseva’oth. And for this reason hath he been chosen and hidden before Him, before the creation of the world and for evermore.
1 Enoch 48:1-6

Israel was not formed before the sun and moon were created, but messiah Yahusha alone.

Also, a prophecy from approximately 450 B.C. during the time of Ezra the priest, a peculiar passage was penned about Messiah Yahusha being extolled and very high (exalted).

Remember: “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (Isaiah 52:13)

I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude, which I could not number, and they all were praising Yahuah with songs. In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I marveled greatly. Then I asked an angel, “Who are these, my adonai?”  He answered and said to me, “These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and they have confessed the name of Elohim; now they are being crowned, and receive palms.” Then I said to the angel, “Who is that young man who places crowns on them and puts palms in their hands?”  He answered and said to me, “He is the Son of Elohim, whom they confessed in the world.” So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of Yahuah
2 Esdras 2:42-47

Keep in mind, 2 Esdras (aka 4th Ezra) was included in the 1611 KJV and many other cannons. Per the prophecy, Messiah would be confessed by those who were to be crowned.


The Targums clears up any doubt as to who this servant is:

Behold my servant the Messiah shall prosper, he shall be exalted and extolled, and he shall be very strong.”
Isaiah 52:13 Aramaic Targum



Isaiah 53:1 “Our Report”

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of Yahuah revealed? (Isaiah 53:1)

The book of John chapter 12 records the fulfillment of this prophecy:

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Yahuah, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of Yahuah been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
John 12:37-42

The anti-messianic claim: Some would argue that Isaiah 53:1 is speaking about the kings of the earth found in the Masoretic version of 52:15:

 So shall he sprinkle 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)

They do this in order to perpetrate a doctrine that Israel as a people save the nations/kings — to which they believe that it is the kings who speak in Isaiah 53:1 and therefore the rest of the chapter.

However the Septuagint clears this up nicely for us:
“15 Thus shall many nations wonder at him; and kings shall keep their mouths shut: for they to whom no report was brought concerning him, shall see; and they who have not heard, shall consider.”

Aramaic Targums:
“thus shall he scatter many nations; before him kings shall keep silence: they shall put their hands upon their mouths, for that which had not been told them shall they see: and that which they had not heart shall they consider.”


The kings keep their mouths shut — it is not their report.


So Who’s report then?


Chapter 52 is all about YHWH’s people, verse 6 is specifically telling as to who will give the report:

For thus saith Yahuah Elohaynu, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. Now therefore, what have I here, saith Yahuah, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith Yahuah; and my name continually every day is blasphemed. Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.
Isaiah 52:4-6

It is his people who these matters are revealed to, the arm of YHWH, and it is they who bring this report.

Isaiah 52:11-15 Targums:
“Separate yourselves, separate yourselves, go ye out from thence, do not come near the unclean; come forth from the midst of her: those that carry the vessels of the house of the sanctuary of YHWH have been chosen. For ye shall not go forth in haste from among the nations, nor be carried in flight to your land: for your guide is YHWH and he that shall gather your captivity is the Elohim of Israel. Behold, my servant the Messiah shall prosper, he shall be exalted and extolled, and he shall be very strong.  As the house of Israel anxiously hoped for him many days, (which was poor among the nations; their appearance and their brightness being worse than that of the sons of men:).  Thus, shall he scatter many nations; before him kings shall keep silence: they shall put their hands upon their mouths, for that which had not been told them shall they see: and that which they had not heard shall they consider.”



The Suffering Servant

The claim — Again, they believe that Israel as a people, and not messiah is the suffering servant.

Isaiah 53:1
“O YHWH who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of YHWH been revealed?

Let’s read a passage in Psalm 22, known as the crucifixion scene, keep in mind ‘the report’:

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are loosened: my heart in the midst of my belly is become like melting wax. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue is glued to my throat; and thou hast brought me down to the dust of death. For many dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked doers has beset me round: they pierced my hands and my feet. They counted all my bones; and they observed and looked upon me. They parted my garments among themselves, and cast lots upon my raiment. But thou, O Yahuah, remove not my help afar off: be ready for mine aid. Deliver my soul from the sword; my only-begotten one from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth; and regard my lowliness from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name to my brethren (John 17:6): in the midst of the church will I sing praise to thee. Ye that fear Yahuah, praise him; all ye seed of Jacob, glorify him: let all the seed of Israel fear him. For he has not despised nor been angry at the supplication of the poor; nor turned away his face from me; but when I cried to him, he heard me. My praise is of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The poor shall eat and be satisfied; and they shall praise Yahuah that seek him: their heart shall live for ever. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to Yahuah: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him. For the kingdom is Yahuah’s; and he is the governor of the nations. All the fat ones of the earth have eaten and worshipped: all that go down to the earth shall fall down before him: my soul also lives to him. And my seed shall serve him: the generation that is coming shall be reported to Yahuah. And they shall report his righteousness to the people that shall be born, whom Yahuah has made.
Psalm 22:15-end (Ps 21 Septuagint)


This scene ties together the suffering of Yahusha on the cross (suffering servant), the report that will be given and his ‘seed’, which we will review more closely in a moment. Let’s focus on the ‘report’ for now:

Isaiah 53:2 — We brought a report as of a child before him; he is as a root in a thirsty land: he has no form nor comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty.

Who is this root in a dry ground?

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of Yahuah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahuah (seven spirits – Revelation 3:1, 5:6); And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of Yahuah: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse (Matthew Ch.1), which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
Isaiah 11:1-5,10

The book of Matthew and Luke both properly recorded Messiah’s lineage — proving he is the root and branch from the lineage of Jesse (House of David) that was prophesied.

But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction. But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his bruises we were healed. All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and YHWH gave him up for our sins.”
Isaiah 53:3-6 Septuagint

The anti-messiah teachers say this passage is about Israel being given up for the sins of the world, yet the prophets spoke plainly as to why Israel was afflicted.

And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them.
Ezekiel 39:23-24

You can also read all about Israel’s fate (good or bad) in Deuteronomy 28.  Had they stayed obedient, they would have never suffered afflictions, that was Yahuah’s promise. The truth is, it was never prophesied that Israel would suffer because of the nation’s sake. The claim that Israel was afflicted due to the nations would make Yahuah a liar.


And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation?
Isaiah 53:7-8 Septuagint

The truth is, Messiah Yahusha was blameless and his blood atoned for our sins.  This follows the same pattern as blameless animals who’s blood atoned on the altar for the guilty.


The Servant’s Seed

“Yet it pleased Yahuah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahuah shall prosper in his hand.”
Isaiah 53:10

The claim — They say that this seed must mean a physical offspring, and considering there is no record of Messiah marrying and having children, he is disqualified. 


Remember the crucifixion scene in Psalm 22 (21 in the Septuagint)?

And my seed shall serve him: the generation that is coming shall be reported to Yahuah. And they shall report his righteousness to the people that shall be born, whom Yahuah has made.  (Psalm 21:31-32 Septuagint)

Let’s dig a little deeper. We will take a look at another set of messianic prophecies that link everything together, found in Isaiah 9 and 22.

For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him. His government shall be great, and of his peace there is no end: it shall be upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to support it with judgment and with righteousness, from henceforth and for ever. The zeal of Yahuah Tseva’oth shall perform this
Isaiah 9:5-6 Septuagint

In Isaiah 22, this messianic prophecy continues:

and I will put on him thy robe, and I will grant him thy crown with power, and I will give thy stewardship into his hands: and he shall be as a father to them that dwell in Jerusalem, and to them that dwell in Juda. And I will give him the glory of David; and he shall rule, and there shall be none to speak against him: and I will give him the key of the house of David upon his shoulder; and he shall open, and there shall be none to shut; and he shall shut, and there shall be none to open. And I will make him a ruler in a sure place, and he shall be for a glorious throne of his father’s house. And every one that is glorious in the house of his father shall trust in him, from the least to the greatest; and they shall depend upon him in that day
Isaiah 22:21-24

Did you catch that?  This Messiah would “ be as a father to them that dwell in Jerusalem, and to them that dwell in Juda“, also, that he himself would have a father. This is the Son of Elohim, no doubt.  Certainly, this seed is spiritual in nature — those that were born again by the Spirit. The true seed of Abraham.


One Cannot Die for the sin’s of another

The claim — They say that a man cannot atone for the sins of another (Ezekiel 18)

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
Ezekiel 18:20

This verse makes it clear that the father does not die because of his son’s actions, nor the son for his father’s. Example; I live righteously, but my father does not — this does not impact my fate.  What this passage does not say — A messiah cannot atone for your sins, they put that concept into the text inappropriately.

This is what Torah says about atonement:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul
Leviticus 17:11

It’s all about the blood. Nevertheless, some may forget that Daniel specifically prophesied that messiah himself would atone for sins directly:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Daniel 9:24-26

I’ll be doing a Messianic study on Daniel 9 on it’s own, but for now, we can see a few things.  Messiah would be cut off, not for himself and that through this, there would be and end of sins and reconciliation for iniquity. Let us reason with one another — this is about as plainly as Yahuah can speak to us about a coming messiah that would die for our sins. HalleluYah!


There is No Other Savior

The claim — In Isaiah, there are several passages that state that Yahuah is salvation and there is none beside him. 

I’d like to compare those verses with what we find in the Aramaic Targums.  For believers in Messiah, this is a gift from Yahuah.  This Aramaic translation makes it easy to see the role and interaction that ‘The Word of Yahuah’ has played since the beginning.  Considering we know who ‘The Word’ is (messiah), take these passages into consideration:

Ye are my witnesses, saith Yahuah, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no Elohim formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Yahuah; and beside me there is no saviour
Isaiah 43:10-11

Aramaic Targums:
“You are my witnesses, saith YHWH and my servant, the Messiah, in whom is my delight, in order that you may know, and that you may believe in me, and understand that I am he who was from the beginning; yea, ages after ages are mine, and beside me there is not god.  I, even I, am YHWH, and beside me there is no savior.”


Thus saith Yahuah, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am Yahuah that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
Isaiah 44:24

Aramaic Targums:
“Thus saith YHWH, who has redeemed you, and who has prepared you from the womb, I am YHWH that makes all things, I have suspended the heavens by my Word, I have laid the foundations of the earth by my strength;

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am Elohim, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in Yahuah have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In Yahuah shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
Isaiah 45:22-25

Aramaic Targums:
Turn unto my Word, and be you saved, all that are at the ends of the earth: for I am YHWH, and there is none else.  I have sworn by my Word, the word is gone forth in righteousness from my presence, and shall not fail, that before me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, he has promised to bring me righteousness and strength by the Word of YHWH. In his Word they shall offer praise, and all the nations that are incensed against his people shall be ashamed. In the Word of YHWH all the seed of Israel shall be justified and glorified.”


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. The same was in the beginning with Elohim. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and Truth.
John 1:1-3,14

Lastly, let us take a look at how the Aramaic Targums finish up Isaiah 53.  I believe this translation shows the true mission Yahusha was sent for:

And it was the pleasure of Yahuah to refine and to purify the remnant of his people, in order to cleanse their souls from sin, that they might see the kingdom of their Messiah, that their sons and daughters might multiply, and prolong their days, and those that keep the Torah of Yahuah shall prosper through his pleasure. He shall deliver their souls from the servitude of the nations, they shall see the vengeance upon their enemies; they shall be satisfied with the spoil of their kings. By his wisdom he shall justify the righteous, in order to make many to keep the torah, and he shall pray for their sins. Therefore I will divide to him the spoil of many people, and the treasures of strong fortifications; he shall divide the spoil; because he has delivered his life unto death, and he shall make the rebellious to keep the Torah; he shall pray for the sins of many, and as for the transgressors, each shall be pardoned for his sake.
Isaiah 53:11-13 Aramaic Targums

What an amazing Messiah and High Priest we have. One that would not only pray for our sins, but also die for us and bring us back to the Truth!


Be confident that my brothers and sisters, Yahusha is the true messiah and his blood has brought us atonement and through his true teaching, back to the Torah of Yahuah — Praise be to Yahuah!  Let us walk as messiah walked, obedient to The Most High’s eternal Torah!

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