1Who would believe what we have heard?*
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?a
2He grew up like a sapling before him,b
like a shoot from the parched earth;
He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye,
no beauty to draw us to him.
3He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, knowing pain,
Like one from whom you turn your face,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.c
4Yet it was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
5But he was pierced for our sins,
crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed.e
6We had all gone astray like sheep,
all following our own way;
But the LORD laid upon him*
the guilt of us all.f
7Though harshly treated, he submitted
and did not open his mouth;
Like a lamb led to slaughter
or a sheep silent before shearers,
he did not open his mouth.g
8Seized and condemned, he was taken away.
Who would have thought any more of his destiny?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
struck for the sins of his people.
9He was given a grave among the wicked,
a burial place with evildoers,
Though he had done no wrong,
nor was deceit found in his mouth.h
10But it was the LORD’s will to crush him with pain.
By making his life as a reparation offering,*
he shall see his offspring, shall lengthen his days,
and the LORD’s will shall be accomplished through him.
11Because of his anguish he shall see the light;
because of his knowledge he shall be content;
My servant, the just one, shall justify the many,
their iniquity he shall bear.
12Therefore I will give him his portion among the many,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
Because he surrendered himself to death,
was counted among the transgressors,
Bore the sins of many,
and interceded for the transgressors.i
* [53:1–10] What we have heard: this fourth servant oracle is introduced by words of the Lord (52:13–15) but is now continued by speakers who are not identified, perhaps those referred to in 52:15, perhaps Israel (cf. “struck for the sins of his people”—v. 8). The Lord is again the speaker in vv. 11–13.
* [53:4] Struck down by God: the Bible often sees suffering as a punishment for sin (e.g., Ps 6:2; 32:1–5), yet sin sometimes appears to go unpunished and the innocent often suffer (cf. Ps 73; the Book of Job). In the case of the servant, the onlookers initially judge him guilty because of his suffering but, in some way not explained, they come to understand that his sufferings are for the sins of others. One notes the element of surprise, for such vicarious suffering, in the form described here, is without parallel in the Old Testament.
* [53:6] The LORD laid upon him: the servant’s suffering is no accidental or casual matter, but part of God’s plan; see also v. 10. The bystanders’ speculation of v. 4 is verified, but not in the sense intended by them.
* [53:10–11] Reparation offering: the Hebrew term ’asham is used of a particular kind of sacrifice, one that is intended as compensation for that which is due because of guilt. See Lv 5:14–26 and note. Justify: the verb means “to be acquitted,” “declared innocent,” but since the servant bears “their iniquity,” an effective rather than simply legal action is suggested.