Identifying the Suffering Servant

Understanding Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 52-54

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © July 1998 (most recent update March 08, 2018)

These chapters of Navi Yeshayahu's writings reveal essential information about the Jewish People and our responsibilities as the Elect of HaShem under the conditions of the eternal Sinai Covenant. These truths need to be properly understood. We must not shy away from the fact that the Jews are the "Chosen Nation." We need to understand what this divine election entails.

In our attempt to understand this section of Scripture, we'll begin with the context at Isaiah 52:1 and take the literal sense and meaning of the texts throughout. In order to understand Isaiah, one really needs to study it chapter by chapter and verse by verse as many of its themes run through several chapters, some through the entire book. Remember, the chapters and verses were added later to assist in studying. They were not part of the original texts. Therefore the section breaks are meaningless as far as the teachings are concerned.

Yeshayahu 52:

עוּרִי עוּרִי לִבְשִׁי עֻזֵּךְ צִיּוֹן לִבְשִׁי בִּגְדֵי תִפְאַרְתֵּךְ יְרוּשָׁלִַם עִיר הַקֹּדֶשׁ כִּי לֹא יוֹסִיף יָבֹא־בָךְ עוֹד עָרֵל וְטָמֵא׃
1. Awake, awake, O Zion! Clothe yourself in splendor; Put on your robes of majesty, Jerusalem, holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean Shall never enter you again.

People Israel

Y'israel (i.e. the people of the eternal Covenant) is collectively referred to here as a single unit, as "Zion." Zion, Klal Y'israel, is called upon here to "awaken," and to clothe themselves in splendor etc. Compare this with Psalm 82 where we are communally commanded to arise to Torah as a single person and to embrace our responsibilities as the sons and daughters of HaShem. Referencing Klal Y'israel as a single Servant is common throughout the Tanach (i.e. the Hebrew Bible). While we are individual people, Jews serve HaShem as one person. These chapters utilize this common principle. When Israel is united with HaShem and themselves they prosper. When Y'israel allows themselves to be divided from HaShem and/or other Jews we suffer.

As we make our way through Yeshayahu's book we note that something in this section has radically changed with this verse: It's a new day! HaShem is now comforting "Zion" (i.e. the people of Israel). The Holy City is once again in the hands of the Chosen People and will never again be controlled by Gentile powers (verse 1). We are obviously speaking of a future time (from Isaiah's perspective and from ours still) because this situation didn't exist until 1948, when Israel regained control of part of the Holy Land, or perhaps not until the 1967 Six Day War when Holy Jerusalem was re-unified under Israeli control, or in truth, not even yet as Israel has not thus far been restored as the foretold Messianic kingdom; Indeed, the "uncircumcised" walk freely through the streets of Jerusalem still today. May that restoration come soon and in our lifetimes B"H! We see therefore that this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.

Of course, Jews love to debate and dig for deeper meanings! There is some rabbinic debate over everything we will discuss here. For instance, the Jewish people seem to have taken the land by UN accord rather than waiting for the Messiah to restore it as a literal reading of the prophecies would suggest. For this reason some misguided Jews are among the hoards of anti-Zionists. We can discuss this issue elsewhere. The important point here is that this prophecy is yet future at Isaiah's time and its complete fulfillment (at least) remains future to ours.

הִתְנַעֲרִי מֵעָפָר קוּמִי שְּׁבִי יְרוּשָׁלִָם התפתחו [הִתְפַּתְּחִי] מוֹסְרֵי צַוָּארֵךְ שְׁבִיָּה בַּת־צִיּוֹן׃
2. Arise, shake off the dust, Sit [on your throne], Jerusalem! Loose the bonds from your neck, O captive one, Fair Zion!

כִּי־כֹה אָמַר יְהוָה חִנָּם נִמְכַּרְתֶּם וְלֹא בְכֶסֶף תִּגָּאֵלוּ׃
3. For thus said the LORD: You were sold for no price, And shall be redeemed without money.

כִּי כֹה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה מִצְרַיִם יָרַד־עַמִּי בָרִאשֹׁנָה לָגוּר שָׁם וְאַשּׁוּר בְּאֶפֶס עֲשָׁקוֹ׃
4. For thus said the Lord GOD: Of old, My people went down To Egypt to sojourn there; But Assyria has robbed them, Giving nothing in return.

וְעַתָּה מי־לי־[מַה־] [לִּי־] פֹה נְאֻם־יְהוָה כִּי־לֻקַּח עַמִּי חִנָּם משלו [מֹשְׁלָיו] יְהֵילִילוּ נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְתָמִיד כָּל־הַיּוֹם שְׁמִי מִנֹּאָץ׃
5. What therefore do I gain here? —declares the LORD— For My people has been carried off for nothing, Their mockers howl —declares the LORD— And constantly, unceasingly, My name is reviled.

לָכֵן יֵדַע עַמִּי שְׁמִי לָכֵן בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא כִּי־אֲנִי־הוּא הַמְדַבֵּר הִנֵּנִי׃
6. Assuredly, My people shall learn My name, Assuredly [they shall learn] on that day That I, the One who promised, Am now at hand.

מַה־נָּאווּ עַל־הֶהָרִים רַגְלֵי מְבַשֵּׂר מַשְׁמִיעַ שָׁלוֹם מְבַשֵּׂר טוֹב מַשְׁמִיעַ יְשׁוּעָה אֹמֵר לְצִיּוֹן מָלַךְ אֱלֹהָיִךְ׃
7. How welcome on the mountain Are the footsteps of the herald Announcing happiness, Heralding good fortune, Announcing victory, Telling Zion, “Your God is King!”
Isaiah is looking into the future, to the day when Israel will be restored. Once this happens, Israel will never again be subjected to Gentile rule. It is for this reason that we know the prophecy was not about the brief Hasmonean Dynasty because the text says "...henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean..." After that brief period of independence the nation fell to Rome and was again occupied by non-Jews.

So still, the subject being referenced here is Klal Israel. In those days as Rashi notes on verse 3, "you shall not be redeemed for money: but with repentance." Keep this in mind as we continue.

Beginning with verse 3 we see how the Jews have suffered throughout their generations and how HaShem has taken note of it. He will, in due time, redeem His people as promised. As part of this redemption the Jews will re-learn His Name, they will again take up His Laws and observe His precepts (verse 6). Of this Rashi notes: When I redeem them, they will recognize that My Name is master, monarch, and ruler, as is its apparent meaning.

There is a time coming when HaShem will deliver the Jews and will re-establish us for ever in our homeland, Zion. This is what is being presented here.

קוֹל צֹפַיִךְ נָשְׂאוּ קוֹל יַחְדָּו יְרַנֵּנוּ כִּי עַיִן בְּעַיִן יִרְאוּ בְּשׁוּב יְהוָה צִיּוֹן׃
8. Hark! Your watchmen raise their voices, As one they shout for joy; For every eye shall behold The LORD’s return to Zion.

פִּצְחוּ רַנְּנוּ יַחְדָּו חָרְבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם כִּי־נִחַם יְהוָה עַמּוֹ גָּאַל יְרוּשָׁלִָם׃
9. Raise a shout together, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the LORD will comfort His people, Will redeem Jerusalem.

חָשַׂף יְהוָה אֶת־זְרוֹעַ קָדְשׁוֹ לְעֵינֵי כָּל־הַגּוֹיִם וְרָאוּ כָּל־אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץ אֵת יְשׁוּעַת אֱלֹהֵינוּ׃
10. The LORD will bare His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, And the very ends of earth shall see The victory of our God.
Verse 8 points to this time as being the day when all of the Jews will be resettled in Israel. Then HaShem Himself will return with them. Thus far only about half of the Jews have returned to Israel. We know therefore that these prophecies are not yet fulfilled.

Those who seek to usurp our scriptures and incorrectly claim that some other religion has replaced Israel as the Chosen of HaShem contradict the clear teachings of Prophet Isaiah here! He says that when the Jews were cast out of the Holy City in 70 CE by the Romans HaShem went with them! The various Pagan shrines that were built on our Holy sites, even on the Sacred Mount itself, will be all removed during the period discussed in these chapters. Again, this has yet to happen. These usurpers were not worshiping the G-d of the Bible because He was not there! He was with His people in the Diaspora. HaShem was in the ghettos of Poland, in Germany, in Russia, in the US, in Czechoslovakia, in Bulgaria, wherever His people were and are, HaShem is present with them.

Note that at this future time the Jews are still the Elect of HaShem. This will never change as we read at Malachi 3:6: For I, the Lord, have not changed; and you, the sons of Jacob, have not reached the end. Just as HaShem promised Avraham, His Covenant is eternally with the Jews, the sons of Jacob.

Note that this message is on the lips of many people, not just one man. The referenced Servant here is the Jewish people inclusive. These "Watchmen" (plural) are the religious/observant Jews who have watched and waited for this day throughout their generations. Now, perhaps in our generation perhaps later, the Jews will all return to the Land, even Jerusalem (vs.9) as one. About half of us remain in the Diaspora. Once the United Kingdom of Israel is restored under Melech HaMashiach ben David, HaShem will again comfort His people and redeem us. May we witness this soon.

סוּרוּ סוּרוּ צְאוּ מִשָּׁם טָמֵא אַל־תִּגָּעוּ צְאוּ מִתּוֹכָהּ הִבָּרוּ נֹשְׂאֵי כְּלֵי יְהוָה׃
11. Turn, turn away, touch naught unclean As you depart from there; Keep pure, as you go forth from there, You who bear the vessels of the LORD!

כִּי לֹא בְחִפָּזוֹן תֵּצֵאוּ וּבִמְנוּסָה לֹא תֵלֵכוּן כִּי־הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיכֶם יְהוָה וּמְאַסִּפְכֶם אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃
12. For you will not depart in haste, Nor will you leave in flight; For the LORD is marching before you, The God of Israel is your rear guard.

This coming redemption will be a divinely orchestrated process that takes time. This is what the anti-Zionists mentioned above fail to understand. All Jews are encouraged to lay aside their sins and idols and to return to the ways of the God of Israel (verse 11). We had previously been living in exile, scattered among the Gentile nations, but now is the time to purify ourselves and return to the Promised Land with clean hands so that we may once again "bear the vessels of HaShem." This requires preparation (during the period known as Ikv'ta d'Mashicha. These Jews will cleanse their souls through emunah (active faith/trust) and teshuvah (repentance) and thereby all the souls of the Jewish people, as one Soul, one Servant of the One Master. This section is therefore a call for all Jews to return to Torah observance as one. When this is done, we will be led directly by the Will of HaShem as in days of old and we will be collectively redeemed. Rashi clarifies this important point:

Two things at the end of this verse explain two things in its beginning, [viz.] For not with haste shall you go forth. What is the reason? For the Lord goes before you to lead you on the way, and one whose agent advances before him to lead him on the way his departure is not in haste. And not in the flurry of flight shall you go, for your rear guard is the God of Israel. He will follow you to guard you from any pursuer. Comp. (Numbers 10:25) "And the division of the camp of Dan shall travel, the rear guard of all the camps." Whoever goes after the camp is called "the rear guard," because he waits for the stragglers and the stumblers. Similarly, Scripture states in Joshua [6:13]: "And the rear guard was going after the Ark."
In time the Third Temple will be built on the Holy Mount and all of Eretz Israel will be restored. Even before this however, the Jews must purify themselves by obeying Torah with emunah (active faith/trust) in HaShem. Only our collective teshuvah (repentance) can bring the Messianic kingdom into objective reality. Arguably this process is now beginning as we continue to experience the birth pangs of HaMashiach (or Chevlei Masiach) and re-born secular nation of Israel.

Once again the prophet warns that the Jews will be opposed by the Gentile nations! So many Gentiles today are claiming to be our friends however their friendship is too often merely a prelude to conversion attempts! Many others, such as BDS, the Presbyterian and Quaker churches etc. are openly working against us! Have no fear! HaShem will defend His people. He will "march before them" into this end of the age battle as He did in days of old. When the time comes Mashiach ben Yosef (i.e. an anointed son of Joseph) and Melech Mashiach ben David (i.e. King Messiah, son of David) will lead the Chosen People to victory for the redemption of the whole earth, as implied at Bereshit 12:3. THEN all descendants of Noach will hear and obey HaShem's Voice! THEN there will be shalom, peace for everyone. We simply need to exercise emunah and follow HaShem and His Torah as discussed at great length by sages such as Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

There are many ancient and modern war reports in Israel describing HaShem's direct intervention and protection on our behalf. Many such divine acts were seen and reported during the 2014 Gaza attacks on Israel by the Muslims occupying our Land. As Israel journeys further into the Days of HaMashiach such miraculous events will only increase. Mashiach ben Yosef and HaMashiach ben David will eventually lead the people of Israel to victory. Then the world will be blessed by HaShem through Klal Y'israel as stated at Genesis 12:3 etc.

There are many ancient and modern war reports in Israel describing HaShem's direct intervention and protection on our behalf. Many such divine acts were seen and reported during the 2014 Gaza attacks on Israel by the Muslims occupying our Land. As Israel journeys further into the Days of HaMashiach such miraculous events will only increase. Mashiach ben Yosef and HaMashiach ben David will eventually lead the people of Israel to victory. Then the world will be blessed by HaShem through Klal Y'israel as stated at Genesis 12:3 etc.

The focus of these chapters however is not HaMashiach. They are referencing the service of the Jewish people throughout history, even to the present time and beyond. There is no question about this when one considers the context as we have done thus far. The Jewish people collectively are the "Servant" referenced here and in the next chapters.

הִנֵּה יַשְׂכִּיל עַבְדִּי יָרוּם וְנִשָּׂא וְגָבַהּ מְאֹד׃
13. “Indeed, My servant shall prosper, Be exalted and raised to great heights.

כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׁמְמוּ עָלֶיךָ רַבִּים כֵּן־מִשְׁחַת מֵאִישׁ מַרְאֵהוּ וְתֹאֲרוֹ מִבְּנֵי אָדָם׃
14. Just as the many were appalled at him— So marred was his appearance, unlike that of man, form, beyond human semblance—

כֵּן יַזֶּה גּוֹיִם רַבִּים עָלָיו יִקְפְּצוּ מְלָכִים פִּיהֶם כִּי אֲשֶׁר לֹא־סֻפַּר לָהֶם רָאוּ וַאֲשֶׁר לֹא־שָׁמְעוּ הִתְבּוֹנָנוּ׃
15. Just so he shall startle many nations. Kings shall be silenced because of him, For they shall see what has not been told them, Shall behold what they never have heard.”
Rashi gives more insight:
Verse 13: Behold My servant shall prosper: Behold, at the end of days, My servant, Jacob, i.e. the righteous among him, shall prosper.

Verse 14: As many wondered: As many peoples wondered about them [the Jews] when they saw them in their humble state, and said to one another, How marred is his [Israel’s] appearance from that of a man! See how their features are darker [i.e. weary and abused] than those of other people, so, we see with our eyes.

Verse 15: what had not been told them: concerning any man, they saw in him.
So shall he cast down many nations: So now, his hand will become powerful, and he will cast down the horns [i.e. powers] of the nations who scattered him.
shall shut: They shall shut their mouths out of great bewilderment.
for: honor.
In context the meaning is clear. In the past many people were appalled and disgusted by the Jews. Many condemned us, they considered the Jews to be nothing, not even human, less than human; they dehumanized us, they slaughtered us without mercy in countries throughout the world. This has been the world's basic attitude toward the Jews since the time of Avraham (verse 14). But now those days are ending! As the Days of HaMashiach dawn "My servant", HaShem declares, will prosper and be lifted up! This process is well under way today, even though antisemitism remains an ever present mental disease among many Gentiles (and not a few Jews!). Israel has been restored to nationhood! People stand with their mouths hanging open: how did this happen! For the first time in over 2000 years Jews are defending our Homeland and our people across the globe from those who would destroy us! Am Y'israel chai! The people of Israel yet live!

The identity of "My Servant" can only be the Jewish people when we consider these chapters in context. Some Jews are currently obedient to Torah, some are not. Some are Heredi (ultra-Orthodox) while others are non-Orthodox and more liberal in their observances and beliefs. Some are Chassidic, others are not. Some are Sephardi, some Ashkenazi. Many are secular, some are Atheists (surprisingly including some otherwise observant Jews!). But we are all one people and together we must stand! The current divisiveness and infighting among our people is the biggest threat we are currently facing.

As Rav Kook, the first modern Chief Rabbi of Israel so effectively argued, even when Jews think they are out of HaShem's Will, His Will remains supreme and leads the people towards our eventual Redemption step by step.

Nothing in these verses even opens the door to the notion that the prophet is referring to HaMashiach, neither to the real one nor certainly to any of the counterfeits. The Servant of HaShem is the collective body of the Jewish People.

Beginning with verse 1 of chapter 52 HaShem is directly speaking about the body of Israel. In verse 3 HaShem says to His servant: "you were sold for naught." Who is this "you"? It can only be Israel, who was sold into slavery to Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and elsewhere. Verses 5 and 6 says, "My people;" these are clearly the Jews, not an individual among them.

Throughout chapter 52 it is clear that these prophesied events still have not been completed. The Jewish nation was not even partially restored for nearly 2000 years after the destruction of the Second Temple ion 70-73 CE. This "servant" can't possibly be a reference to HaMashiach when one considers the context. The references are all to a collective body, not to an individual.

The degradation and sufferings of the Jewish people throughout history are well documented, as is their triumphant return to our birthright, the Land of Israel, in our own time. Out of all the generations of the Jewish people ours has been blessed to see the partial rebirth of Israel! Think about that! WE blessed few are His referenced Servant! We are Israel. This is a prophecy about us! After more than 3500 hundred years of toil and sorrow, not only do we still survive, we thrive!

Ponder the abused and persecuted Jews of the Greek and Roman empires, those of the Christian Middle Ages when our collective Light flickered and almost expired, remember those Jews of Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany when over half us were slaughtered! Think of how the Jews arose from the ashes of the Shoah and miraculously returned Home to the amazement of the world and established the modern nation of Israel in 1948! It was amazing! It was miraculous! It was startling (verse 15)! It was not supposed to ever happen! The Gentile world leaders, the US, England, the USSR, France, the Arab states, they all stood slack-jawed, amazed to see abused concentration camp survivors take up rakes and shovels, defeat the Muslim hordes, and rebuild the nation of their ancestors! The nations had never conceived that the God of Israel could or would accomplish such an amazing thing in modern times!


The Western world is again turning against us. Many want to see another Jewish genocide. But Israel will survive this too with the protection of HaShem!

Of course, the current nation of Israel is not the foretold messianic theocracy it will become. the Temple has yet to be rebuilt, and the Messiah is not yet ruling from Jerusalem. Nonetheless the world is amazed, shocked, and afraid! HaShem is clearly preparing His people! Israel is back center stage! Never again to be removed from our land according to the prophets! Baruch HaShem!

This topic continues into the next chapter without break.

Yeshayahu 53:

מִי הֶאֱמִין לִשְׁמֻעָתֵנוּ וּזְרוֹעַ יְהוָה עַל־מִי נִגְלָתָה׃
“Who can believe what we have heard? Upon whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

וַיַּעַל כַּיּוֹנֵק לְפָנָיו וְכַשֹּׁרֶשׁ מֵאֶרֶץ צִיָּה לֹא־תֹאַר לוֹ וְלֹא הָדָר וְנִרְאֵהוּ וְלֹא־מַרְאֶה וְנֶחְמְדֵהוּ׃
For he has grown, by His favor, like a tree crown, Like a tree trunk out of arid ground. He had no form or beauty, that we should look at him: No charm, that we should find him pleasing.

נִבְזֶה וַחֲדַל אִישִׁים אִישׁ מַכְאֹבוֹת וִידוּעַ חֹלִי וּכְמַסְתֵּר פָּנִים מִמֶּנּוּ נִבְזֶה וְלֹא חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ׃
He was despised, shunned by men, A man of suffering, familiar with disease. As one who hid his face from us, He was despised, we held him of no account.

Rashi: Who would have believed our report: So will the nations say to one another, "Were we to hear from others what we see with our eyes, it would be unbelievable." Who could have believed it! The "arm" or power of HaShem was revealed in middle of the Twentieth Century! His people returned in droves from the concentration camps of war desolated Europa back to their G-d given Land, and from around the globe! It was amazing! Gentile powers like the UK and Russia tried to stop them but still they came! Together, by the sweat of their brows they plowed through the rocks and rebuilt their civilization of freedom and justice for all people, for the Jew first, but also for the non-Jews living among them. While the Arab countries were driving the Jews out and denying the basic human rights, Israel was arising and awarding equality to all of its citizens regardless of religion, race or ethnicity. Amazing!

And as Rashi saw:
And he came up like a sapling before it: This people, before this greatness came to it, was a very humble people, and it came up by itself like a sapling of the saplings of the trees.
and like a root: he came up from dry land.

Israel, once bound by slavery in Egypt, a 'child' roaming in the deserts for forty years, an adolescent abused by Gentile nations the world over, enslaved again by Assyria and Babylon, victimized and subjected to harsh Christian edicts and hostile Muslim fatwas... Israel, HaShem's Suffering Servant, had now become a 'man'! Israel has returned! Israel now stands as a solid, immovable 'tree' among trees (as a nation among the nations). HaShem promises that having become so, Israel will never again be removed from the Land of Promise (52:1)! All who bless Israel ARE BEING blessed and all who curse them ARE BEING cursed and in Israel ALL the world IS BEING blessed (Genesis 12:3)!

Israel is STILL Returning!

Much of the Gentile world still views Israel as the one people that rightly deserves to suffer and die! Not only does this antisemitic mind-set continue, it is again increasing! As Muslim bombs fall on Israel by the thousands, as knife wielding Jihadis roam the streets stabbing whoever they can, as Christian missionaries continue seeking to genocide Jewish souls through conversion, today Israel is still condemned by much of the world simply for defending itself! Today Israel remains despised by a large percentage of humanity and, in their opinion, even by God Himself as foretold at 53:3.

But there is some hope today. Although the Cheney/W. Bush and Obama administrations led the USA and other once friendly nations against Israel, that tide is now turning thanks to President Trump. Under his administration the United States and other countries are now recognizing the historic and modern fact that Jerusalem is our eternal capital. But much more needs to be done.

Why do the nations hate Israel? What was Israel's offense? Why are the Jews so despised? The prophet next reveals information about this great mystery.:

אָכֵן חֳלָיֵנוּ הוּא נָשָׂא וּמַכְאֹבֵינוּ סְבָלָם וַאֲנַחְנוּ חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ נָגוּעַ מֻכֵּה אֱלֹהִים וּמְעֻנֶּה׃
4. Yet it was our sickness that he [Israel] was bearing, Our suffering that he [Israel] endured. We accounted him plagued, Smitten and afflicted by God;
Rashi explains: Indeed, he bore our illnesses: [a-kain] an expression of 'but' in all places. But now we see that this came to him not because of his low state, but that he was chastised with pains so that all the nations be atoned for through Israel's suffering. The illness that should rightfully have come upon us, he [Israel] bore.

We find the reason to this question of why the world so despises us in verse 4: All this came upon Israel because Israel was bearing the sins of the world! Because of this, in Israel the world is guilty and ashamed. Because ISRAEL is the Suffering Servant. Israel was removed from the land and Israel died among the Gentiles, far away from the Holy Land.

וְהוּא֙ מְחֹלָ֣ל מִפְּשָׁעֵ֔נוּ מְדֻכָּ֖א מֵעֲוֺנֹתֵ֑ינוּ מוּסַ֤ר שְׁלוֹמֵ֙נוּ֙ עָלָ֔יו וּבַחֲבֻרָת֖וֹ נִרְפָּא־לָֽנוּ׃
5. But he was wounded because of our sins, Crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, And by his bruises we were healed.


the chastisement of our welfare was upon him: The chastisement due to the welfare that we enjoyed, came upon him, for he was chastised so that there be peace for the entire world.
It is in this sense that Torah says:
Exodus 19:6: And you [Israel] shall be to Me a kingdom of princes and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel."
Israel suffers on behalf of the entire planet.
      This is what it means to be the "Chosen People!"
כֻּלָּ֙נוּ֙ כַּצֹּ֣אן תָּעִ֔ינוּ אִ֥ישׁ לְדַרְכּ֖וֹ פָּנִ֑ינוּ וַֽיהוָה֙ הִפְגִּ֣יעַ בּ֔וֹ אֵ֖ת עֲוֺ֥ן כֻּלָּֽנוּ׃
6. We all went astray like sheep, Each going his own way; And the LORD visited upon him The guilt of all of us.”

נִגַּ֨שׂ וְה֣וּא נַעֲנֶה֮ וְלֹ֣א יִפְתַּח־פִּיו֒ כַּשֶּׂה֙ לַטֶּ֣בַח יוּבָ֔ל וּכְרָחֵ֕ל לִפְנֵ֥י גֹזְזֶ֖יהָ נֶאֱלָ֑מָה וְלֹ֥א יִפְתַּ֖ח פִּֽיו׃
7. He was maltreated, yet he was submissive, He did not open his mouth; Like a sheep being led to slaughter, Like a ewe, dumb before those who shear her, He did not open his mouth.

מֵעֹ֤צֶר וּמִמִּשְׁפָּט֙ לֻקָּ֔ח וְאֶת־דּוֹר֖וֹ מִ֣י יְשׂוֹחֵ֑חַ כִּ֤י נִגְזַר֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ חַיִּ֔ים מִפֶּ֥שַׁע עַמִּ֖י נֶ֥גַע לָֽמוֹ׃
8. By oppressive judgment he was taken away, Who could describe his abode? For he was cut off from the land of the living Through the sin of my people, who deserved the punishment.

וַיִּתֵּ֤ן אֶת־רְשָׁעִים֙ קִבְר֔וֹ וְאֶת־עָשִׁ֖יר בְּמֹתָ֑יו עַ֚ל לֹא־חָמָ֣ס עָשָׂ֔ה וְלֹ֥א מִרְמָ֖ה בְּפִֽיו׃
9. And his grave was set among the wicked, And with the rich, in his death— Though he had done no injustice And had spoken no falsehood.
Again Rashi clarifies:
From imprisonment and from judgment he is taken: The prophet reports and says that the nations will say this at the end of days, when they see that he was taken from the imprisonment that he was imprisoned in their hands and from the judgment of torments that he suffered until now.
and his generation: The years that passed over him. who shall tell?: The tribulations that befell [Israel], for from the beginning, he was cut off and exiled from the land of the living that is the land of Israel for because of the transgression of my people, this plague came to the righteous among them.

Humanity is deeply and eternally indebted to the people of Jacob's lineage for this service! This world is 'sick', this world is sinful and estranged from HaShem our Creator. Israel, the 'Suffering Servant', pays their debts and bears their iniquities as a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6)! Jews are not "better" than anyone else, but they are unique in their divinely mandated purpose: to bless the world. Make no mistake about this.

Its not that the Jewish People are somehow 'better' than the rest. The difference is that HaShem offered Avraham and our people a holy Covenant in addition to the Covenant He made with all the world through Noah. When the Jewish Covenant was literally set in stone at Mount Sinai EVERY Jew who would ever live was personally present and accepted the 'burden of this Torah'. Through the eternal Jewish Covenant Jews were ordained to a unique ministry for the good of all life forms on this planet. Therefore to curse the Jews is to curse humanity and our collective future (Genesis 12:3).

According to Moshe Chaim Luzzatto's "The Way of God" this offer was made to the forebears of all peoples, however only Avraham accepted or was found worthy of receiving it. Take this literally or figuratively as you will. It is for this reason that Israel / the Jews became the vessels through which HaShem cleanses and blesses the entire creation. One day, through HaMashiach, the 'Lion of the Tribe of Judah', HaShem will establish the Olam Haba (the messianic world to come). These verses are not about him however. They about the people from whom he will arise.

The Holy Torah was given only to the Jews. They need it in order to fulfill their mandated responsibilities as the Kingdom of Priests. Through Torah they bring the blessings of HaShem to all the nations of the earth.

Noahidim are to honor and assist the Jews in this vital role. May both groups be blessed and prosper in all their ways for His Glory!

The next several verses describe the pains and humiliations the Jews underwent (and still undergo) in this process of reconciling the world to HaShem.

וַיהוָ֞ה חָפֵ֤ץ דַּכְּאוֹ֙ הֶֽחֱלִ֔י אִם־תָּשִׂ֤ים אָשָׁם֙ נַפְשׁ֔וֹ יִרְאֶ֥ה זֶ֖רַע יַאֲרִ֣יךְ יָמִ֑ים וְחֵ֥פֶץ יְהוָ֖ה בְּיָד֥וֹ יִצְלָֽח׃
10. But the LORD chose to crush him by disease, That, if he made himself an offering for guilt, He might see offspring and have long life, And that through him the LORD’s purpose might prosper.
Torah requires all Jewish males to father at least one child. Through these offspring the people continue L'Dor Vador, through their descendants, throughout the generations..
מֵעֲמַ֤ל נַפְשׁוֹ֙ יִרְאֶ֣ה יִשְׂבָּ֔ע בְּדַעְתּ֗וֹ יַצְדִּ֥יק צַדִּ֛יק עַבְדִּ֖י לָֽרַבִּ֑ים וַעֲוֺנֹתָ֖ם ה֥וּא יִסְבֹּֽל׃
11. Out of his anguish he shall see it; He shall enjoy it to the full through his devotion. “My righteous servant makes the many righteous, It is their punishment that he bears;

לָכֵ֞ן אֲחַלֶּק־ל֣וֹ בָרַבִּ֗ים וְאֶת־עֲצוּמִים֮ יְחַלֵּ֣ק שָׁלָל֒ תַּ֗חַת אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶעֱרָ֤ה לַמָּ֙וֶת֙ נַפְשׁ֔וֹ וְאֶת־פֹּשְׁעִ֖ים נִמְנָ֑ה וְהוּא֙ חֵטְא־רַבִּ֣ים נָשָׂ֔א וְלַפֹּשְׁעִ֖ים יַפְגִּֽיעַ׃ (ס)
12. Assuredly, I will give him the many as his portion, He shall receive the multitude as his spoil. For he exposed himself to death And was numbered among the sinners, Whereas he bore the guilt of the many And made intercession for sinners.”

Now on to chapter 54 of Isaiah.

Yeshayahu 54:

רָנִּ֥י עֲקָרָ֖ה לֹ֣א יָלָ֑דָה פִּצְחִ֨י רִנָּ֤ה וְצַהֲלִי֙ לֹא־חָ֔לָה כִּֽי־רַבִּ֧ים בְּֽנֵי־שׁוֹמֵמָ֛ה מִבְּנֵ֥י בְעוּלָ֖ה אָמַ֥ר יְהוָֽה׃
1. Shout, O barren one, You who bore no child! Shout aloud for joy, You who did not travail! For the children of the wife forlorn Shall outnumber those of the espoused —said the LORD.

הַרְחִ֣יבִי ׀ מְק֣וֹם אָהֳלֵ֗ךְ וִירִיע֧וֹת מִשְׁכְּנוֹתַ֛יִךְ יַטּ֖וּ אַל־תַּחְשֹׂ֑כִי הַאֲרִ֙יכִי֙ מֵֽיתָרַ֔יִךְ וִיתֵדֹתַ֖יִךְ חַזֵּֽקִי׃
2. Enlarge the site of your tent, Extend the size of your dwelling, Do not stint! Lengthen the ropes, and drive the pegs firm.

כִּי־יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹ֖אול תִּפְרֹ֑צִי וְזַרְעֵךְ֙ גּוֹיִ֣ם יִירָ֔שׁ וְעָרִ֥ים נְשַׁמּ֖וֹת יוֹשִֽׁיבוּ׃
3. For you shall spread out to the right and the left; Your offspring shall dispossess nations And shall people the desolate towns.

Jerusalem or Zion is 'she who was as though she had not borne' and Edom is 'the children of the desolate one' according to Rashi.

Avraham and Sara were childless, barren. They cried out to God for offspring and HaShem promised it, but they acted without faith! As a result of this lapse in faith, Ishmael was born of Avraham and Hagar, the Egyptian slave. With that birth came so many of the problems the Jews and the world have experienced ever since. Hagar through Ishmael produced a people great in number, the Northern Arabs. Jerusalem, the daughters of Zion, of Sarah, appear to be nothing by comparison. When these prophecies of Isaiah are realized however the descendants of the rightful mother, Sarah (i.e. People Israel), will outnumber the children of Hagar and they will be vindicated! Through the faithfulness of HaShem, Avraham and Sarah gave birth to Isaac and through him; the Chosen family began; so shout for joy! Sing out O Israel because through Sarah will Mashiach ben David our King emerge when the time is ripe!

In these future times the descendants of Avraham and Sarah will enlarge the territories of Israel on all sides (verses 2,3). Whether this means they will regain all the lands granted to our Patriarchs or perhaps go beyond them is a matter of debate. Under the righteous rule of Melech HaMashiach however, the "Suffering Servant," Israel will awaken to the greatness intended and desired for them by HaShem from the beginning (Psalm 82). Then they will return to the Promised Land -- which began with the restoration in 1948 and continues today (52:1 and on) -- and they will be exalted beyond their boundaries on all sides. In that day ALL of Eretz Israel will be secure and "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." and "he who holds the Scepter of Judah" will reign (Isaiah 11:9). At that time HaMashiach, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, will guide all nations of the earth under his righteous global administration (Genesis 49:10; Zechariah 8:23). Then peace and freedom will be everywhere. His rule will be just and will lead to all 'desolate places' being restored. Israel, the Suffering Servant, will achieve the betterment and blessings of and for the entire world (Genesis 12:3).

אַל־תִּֽירְאִי֙ כִּי־לֹ֣א תֵב֔וֹשִׁי וְאַל־תִּכָּלְמִ֖י כִּ֣י לֹ֣א תַחְפִּ֑ירִי כִּ֣י בֹ֤שֶׁת עֲלוּמַ֙יִךְ֙ תִּשְׁכָּ֔חִי וְחֶרְפַּ֥ת אַלְמְנוּתַ֖יִךְ לֹ֥א תִזְכְּרִי־עֽוֹד׃
4. Fear not, you shall not be shamed; Do not cringe, you shall not be disgraced. For you shall forget The reproach of your youth, And remember no more The shame of your widowhood.
In the days of the Servant's youth they sinned: they doubted, they worshiped idols, they made a golden calf to replace HaShem as Moshe tarried on the Mount! The truthfulness of our texts concerning our many failures are among the strongest evidences of their historicity and accuracy.

What does HaShem say about the failings of the Suffering Servant?

At this future point HaShem says to His people, No! You must now forget the sins of your youth! You must be brave! Be confident O Israel! (verses 3,4). Proclaim the goodness of HaShem to your people and to the Gentile nations! You must be the Light unto all the Nations!

So what did happen because of the sins of the Chosen People? Were their sins simply ignored? Did HaShem simply overlook their transgressions? This is not the way HaShem deals with His people!

כִּ֤י בֹעֲלַ֙יִךְ֙ עֹשַׂ֔יִךְ יְהוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת שְׁמ֑וֹ וְגֹֽאֲלֵךְ֙ קְד֣וֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֱלֹהֵ֥י כָל־הָאָ֖רֶץ יִקָּרֵֽא׃
5. For He who made you will espouse you— His name is “LORD of Hosts.” The Holy One of Israel will redeem you— He is called “God of all the Earth.”

כִּֽי־כְאִשָּׁ֧ה עֲזוּבָ֛ה וַעֲצ֥וּבַת ר֖וּחַ קְרָאָ֣ךְ יְהוָ֑ה וְאֵ֧שֶׁת נְעוּרִ֛ים כִּ֥י תִמָּאֵ֖ס אָמַ֥ר אֱלֹהָֽיִךְ׃
6. The LORD has called you back As a wife forlorn and forsaken. Can one cast off the wife of his youth? —said your God.

בְּרֶ֥גַע קָטֹ֖ן עֲזַבְתִּ֑יךְ וּבְרַחֲמִ֥ים גְּדֹלִ֖ים אֲקַבְּצֵֽךְ׃
7. For a little while I forsook you, But with vast love I will bring you back.

בְּשֶׁ֣צֶף קֶ֗צֶף הִסְתַּ֨רְתִּי פָנַ֥י רֶ֙גַע֙ מִמֵּ֔ךְ וּבְחֶ֥סֶד עוֹלָ֖ם רִֽחַמְתִּ֑יךְ אָמַ֥ר גֹּאֲלֵ֖ךְ יְהוָֽה׃ (ס)
8. In slight anger, for a moment, I hid My face from you; But with kindness everlasting I will take you back in love —said the LORD your Redeemer.
Consider what HaShem says here! "He who made you will espouse you." The Jews, this "Suffering Servant," is the "wife" of HaShem! And the Scripture says: "I detest divorce—said the LORD, the God of Israel" (Malachi 2:16). And our text here adds: "The Holy One of Israel will redeem you — He is called “God of all the Earth.” (verse 5). There is NO Redeemer other than HaShem! HaShem is the "Husband of the Jews" and He alone is our Deliverer! He alone delivers all those who will be delivered. Apart from Him there is no deliverer and no and no deliverance.
Deuteronomy 32:39 See, then, that I, I am He; There is no god beside Me. I deal death and give life; I wounded and I will heal: None can deliver from My hand.

Since the destruction of the Temple and banishment from our Land in 70 CE the Suffering Servant has accomplished something no other people in history have ever matched. Without a homeland or place to call their own, the Jewish nation managed to maintain its national identity for nearly two thousand years! THAT was a miracle and it was foreseen by Prophet Isaiah.


With the emerging New World Order in the late 1800's the Jews were again facing genocide through forced and coerced assimilation, antisemitism and intermarriage. Certain Jewish leaders decided that if Israel was going to survive much longer as a distinct people they would have to find a way to return Home to our Land. These early Zionists were not by and large religious Jews. They called themselves Zionists because they were determine to re-establish the Jewish homeland at Mount Zion in order to provide a place where Jews, religious and secular, would be safe.

In time the world powers acknowledged this yearning. Britain offered an African homeland to the Jews, but the Zionists correctly rejected it. They realized that there is only one suitable location for the Jewish nation: Eretz Y'israel, the Land deeded to our people for all eternity by HaShem. The promises of the Balfour Declaration, issued November 2, 1917 by the British foreign secretary Arthur James, Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild, provided for the establishment of a Jewish 'state' in Israel. This agreement proved largely hollow however when Britain soon sided with the Muslims against the Jewish people. The early Zionists continued working for the re-establishment of the Jewish Nation in Palestine (as the Romans renamed Judea and Samaria). Note that the only people ever referred to as "Palestinians" from the 1st century CE until the late 1930's were the Jews. The Roman coined term referred to the Greek Philistines, not to the Arabs. Arabs were never known as Palestinians. The true "Palestinians" are the Jews.

While Zionism was not a religious movement, they were Jews working for the betterment of their people and the world. It is clear in hindsight that HaShem was actively involved in their affairs from the very beginning. Indeed for most of Israel's history the Yehudim (i.e. the Judeans or Jews) were considered an ethnic group with a common religious identity rather than a religious group with a common ethnic background. The early Zionists focused on the Jews as a distinct globally persecuted ethnic group, not based on their religious views. They claimed historic ethnic rights to the Land rather than appealing to the Torah as a religious document. This caused not a little consternation among the leaders of the Jewish Orthodoxy who believed we would not be restored to the Land until the coming of HaMashiach ben David.

HaShem's concern for Israel is always with the people whose Temple is in Jerusalem. We minimize the importance of Jewish history, the holy Covenant, and our significance as a people in the grand scheme of things as the Suffering Servant when we think of Judaism as only a religion! It is so much more than that.

As the 1900's continued antisemitism throughout Europe, the US and elsewhere increased. The uncomfortable peace between the War-to-End-all-Wars and the next war created uncertainty for everyone. As usual, all of this chaos was blamed on the Jews.

As the Nazi Movement gained popular support among Germans, many Americans, and others, backed by such powerful people as Neville Chamberlain, Pius XII, Cardinal Spellman, Father Caughlin, Joseph Kennedy, Henry Ford, Adolph Coors, Charles Lindburgh and many others, antisemitism rapidly increased around the world and the Suffering Servant suffered all the more. This trend is now gearing up again.

The ensuing Shoah or Holocaust was horrid beyond comprehension! European Jews cried out to HaShem for refuge and protection and yet the 'Nightmare Years' continued (verse 7) as the Suffering Servants suffered as never before in their history. No one can explain why HaShem allowed this horror to happen, nor to continue for six long years. This fact destroyed the emunah as well as the lives of over half of world Jewry. descendants of these victims still find it difficult to come to terms with what happened. Why had HaShem allowed this horror?

When this mass genocide was finally over, HaShem called His people back to Eretz Y'israel and on Erev Shabbat, the 5th of Iyar in 5708, which is to say, on May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation for the first time in over 2500 years.

Israel IS the Suffering Servant of HaShem! He will never forsake the Jews despite the horrors we have endured throughout the ages as a people (52:1)! Once our rightful King is enthroned, never again will Gentile rulers again control our Holy Land. The Suffering Servantis back (Isaiah 52)! The only question remaining is will we as a people choose HaShem?

II Chronicles 7:14: When My people, who bear My name, humble themselves, pray, and seek My favor and turn from their evil ways, I will hear in My heavenly abode and forgive their sins and heal their land.
Zechariah 8: כֹּ֥ה אָמַ֖ר יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֑וֹת עֹ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר יָבֹ֣אוּ עַמִּ֔ים וְיֹשְׁבֵ֖י עָרִ֥ים רַבּֽוֹת׃
20. Thus said the LORD of Hosts: Peoples and the inhabitants of many cities shall yet come—

וְֽהָלְכ֡וּ יֹשְׁבֵי֩ אַחַ֨ת אֶל־אַחַ֜ת לֵאמֹ֗ר נֵלְכָ֤ה הָלוֹךְ֙ לְחַלּוֹת֙ אֶת־פְּנֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה וּלְבַקֵּ֖שׁ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֑וֹת אֵלְכָ֖ה גַּם־אָֽנִי׃
21. the inhabitants of one shall go to the other and say, “Let us go and entreat the favor of the LORD, let us seek the LORD of Hosts; I will go, too.”

וּבָ֨אוּ עַמִּ֤ים רַבִּים֙ וְגוֹיִ֣ם עֲצוּמִ֔ים לְבַקֵּ֛שׁ אֶת־יְהוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת בִּירוּשָׁלִָ֑ם וּלְחַלּ֖וֹת אֶת־פְּנֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃ (ס)
22. The many peoples and the multitude of nations shall come to seek the LORD of Hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.

כֹּ֥ה אָמַר֮ יְהוָ֣ה צְבָאוֹת֒ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֔מָּה אֲשֶׁ֤ר יַחֲזִ֙יקוּ֙ עֲשָׂרָ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים מִכֹּ֖ל לְשֹׁנ֣וֹת הַגּוֹיִ֑ם וְֽהֶחֱזִ֡יקוּ בִּכְנַף֩ אִ֨ישׁ יְהוּדִ֜י לֵאמֹ֗ר נֵֽלְכָה֙ עִמָּכֶ֔ם כִּ֥י שָׁמַ֖עְנוּ אֱלֹהִ֥ים עִמָּכֶֽם׃ (ס)
23. Thus said the LORD of Hosts: In those days, ten men from nations of every tongue will take hold—they will take hold of every Jew by a corner of his cloak and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

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