(Isaiah 41:8-9, 43:10-11, 44:1-2, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20, 49:3, 49:8, 42:6, 53:11 explained)


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“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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“Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™ “

The Orthodox Jewish Bible Copyright Artists for Israel Intl Used by permission © The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Israel the servant;
man (singular) or nation (plural)?
– some key verses from Isaiah explained.

(Isaiah 41:8-9, 43:10-11, 44:1-2, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20, 49:3, 49:8, 42:6, 53:11 explained)

Did you know that the Holy G-d has had more than one servant in the past on the earth?

Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and the prophet Isaiah have all served G-d as servants amongst other faithfully righteous people.

With these, the risen King Messiah (Christ) is referred to as G-d’s righteous servant, and even the dear zealous scribes and Pharisees are G-d’s servants who deliberate, and advise on the Law of Moses (ref. Matthew 23:1-3).

With this, in the holy book of Isaiah, every time the Scriptures mention the word ‘servant’ or ‘Israel’ – they are not necessarily speaking of the same ‘servant’ in each chapter, or instance.

With this, when the Scriptures say that ‘Israel’ is G-d’s ‘servant’ – the use of the word ‘Israel’ is not always meant to be taken in a plural sense as referring to the ‘nation of Israel’.

Rather, as per the Torah, the name ‘Israel’ is used in a singular sense to refer to ‘one man’, as well as the plural sense – in select instances.

Here is an example of ‘Israel’ being used in the singular to refer to one man;

‘…Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.’
(Genesis 35:10 KJV)

And, here is an example of ‘Israel’ being used in a plural sense, referring to the nation;

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Deuteronomy 6:4 ESV

 We will now review some key instances from the book of Isaiah, where both ‘Israel’ and ‘servant’ will refer to either a nation (plural), one man being the Messiah (Christ) (singular). 

Here is the brief summary of the subject verses that are covered here in this article, in advance;

Isaiah 41:8-9 – Nation (plural).
Isaiah 43:10 – Nation (plural).
Isaiah 44:1-2 – Both. Nation (plural), and Messianic (Christ) (singular).
Isaiah 44:21 – Nation (plural).
Isaiah 45:4 – Nation (plural).
Isaiah 48:20 – Nation (plural).
Isaiah 49:3 –  Messiah (Christ) (singular).
Isaiah 49:5 – included in Isaiah 49:3 explanation.
Isaiah 49:8 & 42:6 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).
Isaiah 53:10 & 53:11 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).

 

Isaiah 41:8-9 – Nation (plural).

“But you, Israel, My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
Descendant of Abraham My friend,
You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its remotest parts
And said to you, ‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and not rejected you.
Isaiah 41:8-9 NASB

These instances of ‘servant’, ‘Israel’, and ‘Jacob’ – by interpretation, refer to the literal nation if Israel (plural).

Why? In verse 14, it states plurality when it says ‘men’;

‘…thou worm Jacob… men of Israel…’.
(Isaiah 41:14)

Isaiah 43:10 – Nation (plural).

“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe Me
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me.
Isaiah 43:10 NASB

The next verse (v.12) confirms that this passage is using ‘servant’ (v.10) in the plural sense, when it says;

‘…you are My witnesses…’
(Isaiah 43:12 NASB)

Further, it then says the; 

Thy first father hath sinned…’
(Isaiah 43:27 KJV)

As the risen King Messiah’s ‘first Father’ is G-d, and the Holy G-d is perfect and has never sinned – this may also be used as support to confirm Isaiah 43:10’s use of ‘servant’ refers to the nation of Israel (plural), and not one man, the Messiah (Christ) (singular).

 

Isaiah 44:1-2 – Both; Nation (plural) and Messianic (singular)

There are a number of interpretations in this instance, and here two are submitted transparently.

First, let us read the subject passage;

“But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
    Israel whom I have chosen!
Thus says the LORD who made you,
    who formed you from the womb and will help you:
Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
    Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
Isaiah 44:1-2 ESV

The Nation (plural) interpretation

In Isaiah chapter 44, the nation (plural) interpretation is the ‘easiest’ interpretation to explain the entire chapter’s use of ‘servant’ and ‘Israel’, in a one-size-fits-all ‘blanket-type’ approach.

In verse 8, it says;

‘…And you are my witnesses!…’
(Isaiah 44:8 ESV)

The word ‘witnesses‘ in verse 8, demonstrates the plurality for verses 1-2’s use of the words ‘Israel’, ‘Jacob’, and ‘servant’.

Holding to this plural interpretation in this instance, we will then later see that verse 21 is also interpreted in a nation (plural) way – when ‘Israel’, ‘Jacob’, and ‘servant’ appear in the text.

 

The Messianic (singular) interpretation;

This Messianic (singular) interpretation for the words ‘Israel’, ‘Jacob’, and ‘servant’ pertain to Isaiah 44:1-5.

Other instances of these words later on in Isaiah chapter 44, then are referring to the nation (plural).

In verse 3 we read;

‘…on your descendants…’
(Isaiah 44:3 ESV)

In this singular interpretation, the use of the word ‘descendants’ is not literal, though is speaking in the sense of the ‘Messiah’s successful mission here on earth, which allows “…many to be accounted righteous…” (Isaiah 53:11 ESV), and thus ‘…born again.’ (John 3:3).

It is in this way that a believer becomes ‘born again’ by believing in Messiah (in Christ), that the Messiah is referred to as having ‘children’, in the Gospel – even though he is not the Father;

The Son of Manwisdom is proved right by all her children.”’
(Luke 7:34-35 NIV)’

Isaiah 44:5 then speaks of these ‘descendants’ (children) as being all who believe in the risen King Messiah (Christ), both Jews and Gentiles (respectively) – when it says;

This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’sanother will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and name himself by the name of Israel.”’
(Isaiah 44:5 ESV)

^ This is speaking of both Jews and Gentiles, who have received the new heart of flesh, and G-d’s Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) within them (Ezekiel 36:26-27) – by believing in Christ (Messiah), G-d’s righteous servant who was given;

…as a covenant to the people…’
(Isaiah 42:6 ESV)

More specifically,

‘…a new covenant…’
(Jeremiah 31:31 KJV)

in order to make

‘…many to be accounted righteous…’ 
(Isaiah 53:11 ESV).

This ‘new covenant’ is explained in more detail when Isaiah 42:6 is explained a little later on, in this article.

For this interpretation, the verses from Isaiah 44:6 onwards in this chapter, then address and refer to the nation of Israel (plural), when speaking of the ‘servant’ ‘Israel’.

 

Isaiah 44:21 – Nation (plural).

“Remember these things, O Jacob,
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant,
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.
Isaiah 44:21 NASB

Why is it plural in this instance? Because in verse 22 it then speaks of this ‘servant’s’ ‘transgressions’ and ‘sins’;

“I have wiped out your transgressionsAnd your sins…’
(Isaiah 44:22 NASB)

In context, and for our reference – Ecclesiastes 7:20 states that all men born of fallen man’s seed sadly sin here;

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 KJV

And this is also further concrete evidence and support as to why the ‘servant’ mentioned later in Isaiah 53, differs to the servant mentioned in Isaiah 44:21 – as, the righteous servant of Isaiah 53 has never sinned, it says;

’…he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.’
(Isaiah 53:9 KJV).

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:18 NIV

amongst other Scripture on the matter.

 

Isaiah 45:4 – Nation (plural).

For the sake of my servant Jacob,
    and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
    I name you, though you do not know me.
Isaiah 45:4 ESV

Here, ‘Israel’, ‘Jacob’, and ‘servant’ are referring to the nation of Israel (plural), and not one man, being the Messiah (Christ) in this instance.

Why, and howso? In verse 5 it then says;

‘…you do not know me.’.
(Isaiah 45:5 ESV).

 It is confirmed in Holy Scripture, that the majority (plural), do not truly know G-d;

‘…”You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied.’
(John 8:19 NIV)

This might further assists us in understanding that Isaiah 45:4 is using ‘servant’ in it’s plural sense – as the risen King Messiah (Christ), does know G-d when it says;

‘…no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
(Matthew 11:27 NIV)

The risen King Messiah (Christ) is in G-d’s presence – at His, blessed be He, right hand;

‘The LORD [G-d] said unto my Lord [Christ], Sit thou at my right hand…’
(Psalm 110:1 KJV [with explanation in brackets, in blue])

and,

Thy throne, O god [Christ], is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore god [Christ], thy God [the Creator], hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Psalm 45:6-7
[KJV amended, with explanation in brackets, in blue])
(little ‘g’ denotes a created being, see article ‘John 1:1 explained…’ here).

 

Isaiah 48:20 – Nation (plural).

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea,
    declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it,
send it out to the end of the earth;
    say, “The LORD has redeemed his servant Jacob!”
Isaiah 48:20 ESV

This prophetic verse is using the words ‘servant’, and ‘Jacob’, in a plural sense.

Why? As, in the next verse (v.21) it refers to the nation of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, whilst referring to the ‘servant Jacob’ of v.20;

They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
    he made water flow for them from the rock;
    he split the rock and the water gushed out.
Isaiah 48:21 ESV.

 

Isaiah 49:3 –  Messiah (Christ) (singular).

3 And he said to me, “You are my servant,
    Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

5
And now the LORD says,

    he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
    and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD,
    and my God has become my strength—
Isaiah 49:3, 49:5 ESV

This chapter nears the Messianic chapter of Isaiah 53.

Isaiah chapter 49 verses 3 and 5 are to be read together, as there is a prophetic riddle here that many have sadly ‘stumbled’ over;

The first instance of ‘Israel’ (v.3) and also the two instances of ‘servant‘ (v.3, v.5) – actually represent one man (being Christ (singular)), and not a nation.
 Whereas the instance of ‘Jacob‘ (v.5), and the second instance of ‘Israel‘ (v.5) – both refer to the nation of Israel (plural).

The explanation for Isaiah 49:3 may be found explained in the article ‘Isaiah 49:3 – one man, not a nation…’ here, in more detail.

If Isaiah 49:3 is read in the incorrect way – being that,

“‘a fallen nation (plural)’ was to bring ‘a fallen nation (plural)’ back to the Holy G-d…”

as opposed to the correct interpretation,

“‘The perfect man (Christ) (singular)’ has brought back ‘a fallen nation (plural)’ to the Holy G-d…”

– the initial, incorrect interpretation would have been a very very difficult [impossible] thing to accomplish, and not a ‘light thing’;

In verse 6 the correct (singular) interpretation is further supported, in that it was a ‘light thing’ for the King Messiah (Christ) (singular), to fulfill his mission – which was to enact the ‘new covenant’ (ref. Isaiah 42:6, Jeremiah 31:31), which G-d had sent, given, and raised His Son, for;

‘…It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob…’
(Isaiah 49:6 KJV)

Christ accomplished this enacting of the New Covenant by fulfilling (observing) all of Torah Law perfectly, having never sinned even in a body of flesh, not even once.
 This item is explained in greater detail, to an extent, in an article entitled ‘Matthew 5:17 – What does it mean to ‘fulfill’ the Law?’.

^This correct singular interpretation of Isaiah 49:6 re: a ‘light thing’, assists us in understanding the riddle of Isaiah 49:3 for the words ‘Israel’ and ‘servant’ – as verse 6 further confirms the victorious, and sinless, life of the risen King Moshiach (Christ).
 This in turn leaves the ‘Israel’, and ‘Jacob’ of Isaiah 49:5, asthen referring to be fallen men whom the righteous servant (Christ) was sent to bring back to G-d.

When Christ (Messiah) was first in heaven, at his beginning before coming to earth – he was originally in the form of a powerful god (see ‘John 1:1-3 explained; There is no ‘trinity’.’).

He then;

‘…humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross….’
(Philippians 2:8 ESV)

^meaning; ‘it was a “light thing” for a completely righteous, powerful spirit, to be sent from heaven, and observe (fulfill) all of the Law, and fulfil the Prophets – even to his obedient death which was followed by his resurrection;

‘…he was cut off out of the land of the living…’
(Isaiah 53:8 KJV).

The righteous servant (singular), inturn makes;

‘…many to be accounted righteous…’
(Isaiah 53:11 ESV)

‘…by his knowledge…’
(Isaiah 53:11 ESV),

as he,

‘…makes intercession for the transgressors.’
(Isaiah 53:12 ESV).

 Perhaps lastly here for now, in Isaiah 49:4 (the verse between our two subject verses 3 & 5) also assists us with the correct interpretation, when it says;

‘…But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity…’
(Isaiah 49:4 ESV)

 This further assists us as support, in that Isaiah 49:3 is speaking of the King Messiah (Christ) when it features the words ‘Israel’ and ‘servant’, in a singular sense.

How so? Verse 4 is speaking with regard to the famous words that the King Messiah (Christ) recited whilst being crucified, as recorded in Matthew 27:46 – and this may be found explained in greater detail in the article ‘Why did Christ say; ‘…my God my God, why have you forsaken me…’?’ here.

The briefly summarized context of the above mentioned article though, for reference is that;

“Despite his (Christ’s) sinless life, faithful and diligent observance of Torah Law, miracles performed, and great love for his people; many people, still sadly did not believe that he was the foretold King Messiah, at that particular time – hence the prophetic ‘…I have labored in vain…’ (Isaiah 49:4 ESV), ‘…”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”…’ (Matthew 27:46 NIV / Psalm 22:1), as ‘He was amazed at their lack of faith….’ (Mark 6:6 NIV).”.

 This all goes toward showing us that Isaiah 49:3’s ‘Israel’ and ‘servant’, and also verse 5’s instance of ‘servant’ – are to be read in a singular sense; they are speaking of the one sinless man, the risen Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach).

In verse 5, the balance of the prophetic riddle is then cleared up for us, in that these later instances of the words ‘Jacob’, and ‘Israel’ are them referring to the fallen (as all men born of fallen man’s seed are here), though, zealous nation of Israel (plural).


Isaiah 49:5 –

Kindly see the combined explanation for Isaiah 49:3 and 49:5 (above).

 

Isaiah 49:8 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).

Isaiah chapter 49 then continues with a singular context in verse 8, confirming that verse 3 is indeed speaking of one man (where it was cryptically referring to the Messiah, as ‘Israel’ and the ‘servant’ – in a singular sense).

In verse 8, it says that G-d will ‘give’ the servant (singular) as a covenant to the ‘people’ (plural);

‘…I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people…’
(Isaiah 49:8 ESV)

 Further, in the next verse (v.9), it then speaks of;

‘…prisoners…’
(Isaiah 49:9 ESV/KJV)

This mention of ‘prisoners’, is relating to the ‘…bonds…’ and ‘…covenant with death…’ (Isaiah 28:22 ESV, 28:18 KJV, respectively) – which pertain to the ‘scoffers’ (Isaiah 28:14 ESV) who do not ‘…believes…’ in the ‘…corner stone…’ (Isaiah 28:16).

It is confirmed in written Holy Scripture that the risen King Messiah (Christ) is this ‘corner stone’; 

‘… Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone…’
(Ephesians 2:20 KJV)

whom is to be believed in by those who observe G-d’s rules;

‘…You believe in God; believe also in me.
(John 14:1 NIV).

And obey the voice of G-d’s servant;

Who among you fears the LORD
    and obeys the voice of his servant?…’
(Isaiah 50:10 ESV)

As per the commandment and statute of G-d in the Torah;

‘…whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.’
(Deuteronomy 18:19 KJV);

and in the Prophets;

‘…‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’…
Then your covenant with death will be annulled…’
(Isaiah 28:16, 28:18 ESV)

And confirmed in the New Testament (Brit Chadasha) – amongst other places;

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 KJV.

 

Isaiah 42:6 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).

 Isaiah 42:6 also speaks of this same righteous ‘servant’ (singular) as Isaiah 49:8 does.

This righteous servant (Christ), is again confirmed to have been given as a ‘covenant’ for the ‘people’ (plural);

‘…I will give you as a covenant for the people…’
(Isaiah 42:6 ESV).

This ‘covenant’ is also referred to as the;

‘…new covenant…’
(Jeremiah 31:31),

and this ‘new covenant’, is the legal mechanism that the Holy G-d has prescribed to redeem His people; through His righteous servant (Christ) – whom makes;

‘…many to be accounted righteous…’
(Isaiah 53:11 ESV)

-when one believes in him (the servant, whom has been given as a ‘…covenant for the people…’ (Isaiah 42:6 ESV).

An article which describes this ‘righteousness by faith’ for a believer, to an extent, in a more detailed article on the matter, entitled ‘Matthew 5:17 – What does it mean to ‘fulfill’ the Law?’ – may be read here.

This ‘new covenant’ consists of, and allows a believer in Messiah (in Christ) to receive the following;

and,

 

Isaiah 53:10 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).

Yet it pleased the LORD 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 the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isaiah 53:10 KJV

How do we know that the ‘servant‘ of Isaiah 53, is speaking in a singular sense, and thus is referring to the risen King Messiah (Christ)?

The above explanations for Isaiah 49:3 and 49:5, 42:6 and 49:8 – have provided the singular context for the ‘servant’ who is spoken of throughout Isaiah chapter 53.

One will also find that throughout chapter 53, the constant theme of ‘one (Christ) living for the many (people)’ is consistent e.g.;

‘…he was wounded for our transgressions…’
(Isaiah 53:5 KJV)

‘…he… makes intercession for the transgressors.’
(Isaiah 53:12 ESV).

 Again, another valid citing here is that all men born of fallen man’s seed here, sadly sin (ref. Ecclesiastes 7:20 KJV) – however, in Isaiah 53:9 it confirms that the suffering, righteous servant in this chapter – who is Christ, has never sinned, when it says;

‘…he practised no violence…’
(Isaiah 53:9).

 Further, Isaiah 53:10 confirms that the risen Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach) literally does not have a biological human father – as you may have already read in the famous Virgin Mary birth account, which is found in the New Testament (Brit Chadasha).

Isaiah 53:10 does this in a literal way by stating that the servant (Messiah) is the literal Son (offspring/seed) of the Living G-d – right before it speaks of when G-d had raised His Son from the dead.

Here is part Isaiah 53:10 with the explanation in brackets;

‘…He [G-d] shall see His seed [His Son (Christ)], He [G-d] shall prolong his days [‘prolong his days’; ‘raise His Son from the dead’ – speaking of when the Holy G-d raised Christ from the dead)]…’
(Isaiah 53:10 [with explanation in brackets in blue]).

 

Isaiah 53:11 – Messiah (Christ) (singular).

With Isaiah chapters 49 and 53 explained thus far, the context for verse 11, here, should now be clear;

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
Isaiah 53:11 ESV

The context of Isaiah 53:11, is with regard to one man (singular) making;

‘…many to be accounted righteous…’
(Isaiah 53:11 ESV).

May the Holy G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; bless you, with a beyond maximum increase – in His risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach). Omayn (Amen).

Biblical Copyright Translation Disclaimer

“Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” 

 “Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org ” 

 “Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Standard Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™”

 “Scripture quotations marked (OJB) are from the Orthodox Jewish Bible Copyright Artists for Israel Intl. Used by permission © The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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