Refuting the Missionaries: Jewish Interpretation of Isaiah

* Isaiah 7.14

"Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign, behold, the young woman shall conceive and bare a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

Christian Claim: This verse was a prophecy of Jesus' birth through the virgin Mary. Instead of translating the Hebrew word "almah" as young woman, they translate it as "virgin."

Jewish Refutation: The word "almah" in biblical Hebrew means "young woman." The Hebrew word for virgin is "betulah." This is supported by Isaiah 37.22, where the word betulah is used to denote a virgin.

There are several other reasons why Isaiah 7.14 could not have been referring to Jesus:

1 - The event spoken of in Isaiah 7 is that of the king Ahaz seeking comfort due to the alliance of Rezin, king of Aram, and Pekah, son of the king of Israel, against him. It makes no sense whatsoever that the sign of comfort G-d gives Ahaz would be the birth of Jesus some 700 years later.

2 - In Isaiah 7.14, the woman who bore the child was supposed to call him "Immanuel," not "Jesus."

3 - Isaiah 7.15 says "Curd and honey shall he eat when he knoweth to refuse the evil and choose the good." Would the messiah/god need to "choose" good and refuse evil? Does such a choice occur to the Christian god?

4 - Immanuel was born in Isaiah 8.8.

In addition to these reasons, knowing that Jesus did not do in the world what the Jewish messiah is supposed to do when he comes, fitting Jesus into Isaiah 7.14 becomes all the more impossible. (For a more comprehensive explanation of why Jesus could not have been the Messiah, see the section "The Messiah" in Part II of this FAQ.)


* Isaiah 11.1
"And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall be fruitful."

Christian Claim: The branch and the root refer to Jesus, who was both the supposed son of god (hence the "root"), and the offspring of king David (hence the "branch"). This prophecy was supposedly fulfilled in Mathew 1.6 and Luke 3.23-32.

Jewish Refutation: Anyone who reads Isaiah 11 (especially verse 4) will notice that the "branch" is to judge the poor, reprove the meek, smite the earth, and slay the wicked. The Christian Bible makes no mention of Jesus doing any of these things.

In addition, a few verses later, we see that the wolves were to lie in peace with the lambs, the people of Israel and Judah would be gathered from the four corners of the earth, and the world was to be "filled with knowledge of the Lord." None of this was fulfilled since the time Jesus supposedly came to the earth.

Christians claim that the things that were supposed to happen in accordance with Isaiah 11, will indeed happen upon Jesus' "second coming." Besides the fact that this second coming is not mentioned in any Christian holy scripture, and that Jesus himself said everything would happen in his lifetime (see "The Messiah" in Part II of this FAQ), a glance at this chapter will reveal the forced nature of this assertion. When Christians claim that verses 1 to 5 definitely do refer to Jesus' first coming, but verses 6 to 9 (containing the prophecy about the wolf living in peace with the lamb) refer to his second coming, they are choosing to ignore verses 9 and 10, which both include the words "in that day", meaning that those prophecies were to be fulfilled during the messiah's life on earth.

The true messiah will be the root of a new era of redemption, and a branch from the line of king David. We Jews await him each and every moment of our lives. All nations will indeed follow him, and the Jews will lead the world to know the true G-d:

Zechariah 8.23: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you."


* Isaiah 11.10

"And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, standing as a banner of the peoples: the nations shall seek it; and his resting-place shall be glory."

Christian Claim: The branch and the root refer to Jesus, who was both the supposed son of god (hence the "root"), and the offspring of king David (hence the "branch"). This prophecy was supposedly fulfilled in Mathew 1.6 and Luke 3.23-32.

Jewish Refutation: Anyone who reads Isaiah 11 (especially verse 4) will notice that the "branch" is to judge the poor, reprove the meek, smite the earth, and slay the wicked. The Christian Bible makes no mention of Jesus doing any of these things.

In addition, a few verses later, we see that the wolves were to lie in peace with the lambs, the people of Israel and Judah would be gathered from the four corners of the earth, and the world was to be "filled with knowledge of the Lord." None of this was fulfilled since the time Jesus supposedly came to the earth.

Christians claim that the things that were supposed to happen in accordance with Isaiah 11, will indeed happen upon Jesus' "second coming." Besides the fact that this second coming is not mentioned in any Christian holy scripture, and that Jesus himself said everything would happen in his lifetime (see "The Messiah" in Part II of this FAQ), a glance at this chapter will reveal the forced nature of this assertion. When Christians claim that verses 1 to 5 definitely do refer to Jesus' first coming, but verses 6 to 9 (containing the prophecy about the wolf living in peace with the lamb) refer to his second coming, they are choosing to ignore verses 9 and 10, which both include the words "in that day", meaning that those prophecies were to be fulfilled during the messiah's life on earth.

The true messiah will be the root of a new era of redemption, and a branch from the line of king David. We Jews await him each and every moment of our lives. All nations will indeed follow him, and the Jews will lead the world to know the true G-d:

Zechariah 8.23: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you."


* Isaiah 28.16

"Therefore, thus saith the Lord G-d, behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a costly corner-stone of sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste."

Christian Claim: In 1 Peter 2.6 the author claims that this verse means that anyone who trusts and believes in Jesus will obtain salvation and glory from G-d. 1 Peter 2.6 translates the last part of Isaiah 28.16 as: "And the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

Jewish Refutation: The hebrew of the last part of the verse is "hama'amin lo yochish," which means "the believer will not make haste," not "the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

This passage is referring to king Chizkiyahu who reigned after Ahaz. In the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, there were many Jewish leaders and advisers who lost their faith in G-d and ridiculed the heritage they received from Him. G-d said that He would bring a righteous king to set Judah straight, but before that He would judge the Judeans harshly for their faithlessness:

Isaiah 28.17: "Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place."

The words "the believer will not make haste" in Isaiah 28.16 were meant to convey that those who believe in G-d's word were not to think that the new era to be inaugurated by king Chizkiyahu would come about immediately, for He intended to punish the sinning Judeans first.


* Isaiah 29.13

"And the Lord said: Forasmuch as this people draw near, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear of Me is a commandment learned by rote."

Christian Claim: Mark 7.7 translates the same verse as follows: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain, their teachings are but rules taught by men."

Jesus supposedly cites this passage in opposition to the pharisees, after being asked why his disciples do not observe Jewish traditions.

Jewish Refutation: The verse was simply mistranslated in the Christian Bible in order to provide the Christian savior (Jesus) with a more convincing argument against the rabbis, who were responsible for preserving the Judaism all of Israel was taught by Moses in his generation.

In Isaiah 29.13, the Hebrew words "yirosam osi mitzvas enoshim melumodoh" mean that the fear of G-d to some insincere Jews became a mere commandment devised by man, lacking proper Jewish devotion.

There is no mention anywhere in that verse, or even before or after it, of G-d rebuking the Jewish leaders for their traditional teachings. The Talmud and other Jewish sources of traditional teachings are filled with utmost praise of G-d and the holiness of Jewish life. G-d did not rebuke Jewish leaders at any time for continuing to teach the Torah we received at Sinai to the Jewish people, both its oral and written parts.


* Isaiah 40.3

"A voice of one calling in the desert, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him."

Christian Claim: Matthew 3.3 says this verse in Isaiah represents John the Baptist, who as he says "In those days, John the baptist came preaching in the desert of Judea" (Matthew 3.1).

Jewish Refutation: In Isaiah 40.5, we read the following: "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all these shall see it together."

This could not have been what John the Baptist had in mind, because Jesus was not seen or heard by most of the world when he allegedly lived. Even today, a very large portion of the world's population are ignorant of his alleged importance.

In addition, in Isaiah 40.10, we find: "The Lord G-d will come as a mighty one ..." If John the Baptist was the one who proclaimed this in the wilderness, he certainly erred, for Jesus came as a lonely, rejected one.

In 40.3 Isaiah was comforting the Jews due to the pending exile of the ten tribes of Israel. He was saying that G-d will yet restore them. Isaiah 41.8-13 is the culmination of the comforting and a promise by G-d that all will be restored. The voice in the wilderness is G-d's voice accompanying the ten tribes in the wilderness and comforting them.


* Isaiah 53

Christian Claim: The Christian Bible mentions Isaiah 53 in three places:

- Luke 22.37
- Acts 8.32-33
- 1 Peter 2.22

This chapter in Isaiah has been established by Christians as the "suffering servant" chapter. To Christians, it is an explicit prophecy of Jesus, who suffered for the sins of others on the cross. It allegedly contains several key indicators that leave no doubt in Christian minds as to its reference to Jesus.

Jewish Refutation: While Christians believe their case for Isaiah 53 representing Jesus is absolutely supported by the verses, a more careful and serious reading of Isaiah 53 will inevitably support no such belief.

Isaiah 53 in the broader scope of the Tanach tells us of a nation that suffered at the hands of others for many years. It tells of a people stricken by G-d with famine and disease, and a people who continued on and on without ever abandoning its heritage completely. It is the story of how the nations bruised and scarred that people, for they thought it was right to do so. Yet they were astonished in the end to find out how wrong they were. Only in the era of Israel's final redemption did the nations begin to understand how all of Israel's suffering was on their behalf. Israel represented the peoples of the world before G-d and was punished in their stead, for their sins. It was Israel's job to see to it that the world became a place where G-d was welcomed among all. They were to be a light unto the gentiles (Isaiah 42.6, Isaiah 60.3), and when they failed to be that, they were held responsible for the nations' failures.

The Jewish view of Isaiah 53 is supported extensively in several ways. The following paragraphs contain some of the more outstanding reasons why the Jewish view of Isaiah 53 is in complete harmony with the Jewish scriptures. There are more reasons for such, but a more complete examination of this issue is beyond the scope of this FAQ. For a more comprehensive presentation of the Jewish view of Isaiah 53 in accordance with the Jewish scriptures, you are invited to read Michoel Drazin's book "Their Hollow Inheritance: A Comprehensive Refutation of Christian Missionaries" at his website.

1 - For one thing, the "servant" spoken of in Isaiah 53 was already identified throughout the book of Isaiah. Would G-d suddenly change his subject for one chapter within the book of Isaiah? The rational individual would answer in the negative.

Isaiah 41.8: "But thou, Israel, art My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend."

Isaiah 41.9: "Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art My servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away."

Isaiah 43.10: "You are My witnesses, says the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen ..."

Isaiah 44.1: "But now hear, O Jacob, My servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen."

Isaiah 44.21: "Remember these things, O Jacob and Israel, for you are My servant. I formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me."

Isaiah 45.4: "For the sake of My servant, Jacob, and My chosen, Israel, I call you by your name ..."

Isaiah 48.20: "Go forth from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it forth to the end of the earth, say: 'The Lord has redeemed His servant, Jacob'."

Isaiah 49.3: "And He said to me: 'You are My servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified'."

2 - The following verse eliminates Jesus as the subject of Isaiah 53:

Isaiah 42.19: "Who is blind but My servant, or deaf as My messenger, whom I send? Who is blind as My dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the Lord?"

If we accept that the chapters leading up to Isaiah 53 are consistent in their message, Isaiah 42.19 poses a dilemma for any Christian who wants to call Jesus the servant of G-d in reference to Isaiah's prophecies.

3 - Chapter 53 in Isaiah contains an abundance of indicators that incontrovertibly invalidate Jesus as the subject. Here follow some such indicators:

(a) Isaiah 53.3: "A man of pains and acquainted with disease ..."

In the Christian Bible, Jesus was not said to have been afflicted with any disease, and the only time he could have felt any pain was on the cross. Isaiah 53.3 is referring to pain that is continuous and which spans a lifetime, for the entire chapter speaks of a matter that took place over time, and not an isolated event.

(b) Isaiah 53.7: "And opened not his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter ... yea, he opened not his mouth."

This could not have been referring to Jesus due to the following Christian Bible verses:

Matthew 27.46: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani'? that is to say, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me'?"

Matthew 26.39: "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed saying, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt'."

According to these verses, the Christian Bible recorded that Jesus did not go so willingly to his death, and did speak out in protest against it.

(c) Isaiah 53.9: "Although he had done no violence ..."

In the Christian Bible, it is recorded that Jesus was indeed violent:

Matthew 21.12: "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves."

(d) Isaiah 53.10: "To see if his soul would offer itself in restitution ..."

Was it possible that the Christian god would not offer itself for the good of all of mankind? Was the Christian god testing the Christian god?

(e) Isaiah 53.10: "That he might see his seed, prolong his days ..."

Even though the Christian Bible claims that Jesus did offer his soul for restitution, Jesus had no offspring, and his days were not prolonged.

(f) Isaiah 53.12: "Therefore, I will divide him a portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty ..."

Would the Christian god's reward for offering himself to himself be a mere portion among the great? Who were the other "greats" who were to share the reward with him? Were they equal to him? And if he received a portion, then wasn't the one distributing it greater than he?

Thus, it is clear from the proofs presented above that Isaiah 53 has nothing to do with Jesus. It makes far better sense when the subject of that chapter is Israel, who as a nation watched its seed carrying on from generation to generation despite attempts by the nations to destroy it. Israel suffered the sins of all, for they were G-d's model people affected by every wrong that occurred in the world. Israel is and always has been G-d's chosen servant, and there is no other.

Deuteronomy 7.6: "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy G-d; the Lord thy G-d hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Him, above all people that are upon the face of the earth."


* Isaiah 55.3

"Incline your ear and come unto Me, hear and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."

Christian Claim: Acts 13.34 translates the last part of that verse as follows: "I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David." The author of Acts claims that that verse speaks of Jesus, who was allegedly raised from the dead by G-d and was not left to decay.

Jewish Refutation: The Hebrew for that verse indicates no such thing. It says: "ve'echresoh lochem bris" ("and I will make a covenant with you"), whereby "lochem" is "you" in the plural form. G-d was not speaking to the messiah, but to those of Israel, who will obey His word. He tells them that He has appointed one from David's lineage as their future king.

Isaiah 55.3 makes no mention of anything having to do with the avoidance of decay in a grave.

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