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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Who rejected the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53:3?

Andrew Dionne appears to claim that the author of Isaiah 53:3 referred only to male adults rejecting the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53:3? The Hebrew word in question is 'ishim.

Here is how some English versions have translated Isaiah 53:3:
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (NASB)

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (ESV)

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like one people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn't value Him. (HCSB)

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (NIV)

He was despised and rejected by others,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. (TNIV)

He was despised and rejected by people.
He was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering.
He was despised like one from whom people turn their faces,
and we didn't consider him to be worth anything. (GW)

He was hated and rejected by people.
He had much pain and suffering.
People would not even look at him.
He was hated, and we didn't even notice him. (NCV)

He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. (NET)
Do you think the original author referred only to male adults rejecting the Suffering Servant? Or do you think that he intended the Hebrew plural here to refer to women, as well?

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6 Comments:

At Sat Aug 20, 10:26:00 PM, Blogger Tyler F. Williams said...

The Hebrew איש more frequently means man (as opposed to woman), though it can also mean "man" in a generic sense, i.e, humanbeing (esp. when plural). In Isaiah it clearly has this sense in Isa 2:11, 17 (// with adam), 29:13, among others.

 
At Sun Aug 21, 02:43:00 PM, Blogger exegete77 said...

As an old codger, I tend to think in terms that understand "men" in Isaiah 53 as generic. I do like the GW rendering. But that should be expected. :-)

 
At Sun Aug 21, 06:24:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

As an old codger, I tend to think in terms that understand "men" in Isaiah 53 as generic. I do like the GW rendering. But that should be expected.

Rich, there are many who have the same generic understanding of "men" in Isaiah 53:3 as you have. I think I was raised with that understanding of "men" in that verse. But Andrew Dionne worded his post in a way that leads me to think he believes that "men" in Is. 53:3 refers only to male adults. And so that is what I was trying, in my post, to find out, does the Hebrew word require only a male adult meaning in Is. 53:3.

I, too, like the GW wording, BTW. But my question remains about whether or not Hebrew 'ishim requires a masculine meaning, not a generic meaning.

 
At Sun Aug 21, 08:19:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

From Liz Fried, a Hebrew professor, who has been unable to log in, to post this herself:

)i$ is usually translated "each," or "each one," and can refer to either a man or a woman. The plural is )ana$im, meaning "people." The plural here is )i$im [I'm using ) for the aleph and $ for the shin.] )i$im appears in only two other places in the Hebrew Bible, once in Prov. and once in Psalms (I forget where now), but neither of these was informative.
It seems to me that the effort to use this unusual plural must either imply only men, or else imply the plural of "each one," perhaps "individuals." I don't know.

 
At Sun Aug 21, 09:52:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

An additional comment from Liz Fried:

The other possibility is that the nun in )ana$im (the usual plural) has become assimilated to the $ and thus dropped. But then I don't understand the change in the vowel. Why not )a$im, not )i$im? Of course, that could have changed due to influence
from )i$. If so, then this may suggest that the texts with )i$im are late insertions, and also that there is
then no difference from )ana$im, just that the nun has assimilated.

Historically speaking, it's all moot. Women didn't go out, and wouldn't have seen him or known him. Take a good look at the tv images of any Arab
street. How many girls or women do you see?

 
At Sun Aug 21, 11:47:00 PM, Blogger Tyler F. Williams said...

Liz makes a great point that I wonder about. In many ways the OT/HB is a totally patriarchal text and that most of the time (if not all) when it refers to "men" or "sons of Israel", etc., it means men (and not women). It is clear that the various laws in the Pentateuch are directed to the male heads of the family, or that Proverbs is written primarily for young men. That was part and parcel of the ancient Israelite worldview.

That being said, I think that Dionne is incorrect to limit the plural to only males.

 

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