Isa. 53:5 "By His stripes..."


Yesterday, my brother and I went for coffee. During the conversation, my brother brought up, “By His stripes we are healed”. For the upteenth time in the past five years, that verse ‘grates/sticks’ for me. It simply made no sense how flogging (stripes) the Lamb of God could heal me.

Well, a few minutes ago, I decided to look at the verse again in the Interlinear. The Hebrew word is chaburah. Even though the interlinear meaning and “stripes” is basically the same, I decided to look up “chuburah” anyway. And found this:

**The Collected Works of Edward M. Matthews **- By Edward M. Matthews (Link is too long, so below is the Google search page - it’s about 7th down.)

Quote from the book:

“This “Last Supper” of Jesus and his disciples, was known among the Jews as a chaburah which is as we would say today “a get-together,” but one with a religious or solemn nature. … The ritual of the chaburah in modified form is now known as “The canon of the Mass” or the Holy Eucharist. … The eucharist consisted only of those things which have special meaning in connection with Jesus’ last chaburah in the “Upper Room”.”

“and by His Body and Blood, we are healed” - sounds much more ‘in tune’, eh?

It’s just a preliminary find and will keep digging, but it looks promising, to me.

How would Isaiah have known to use this particular word that would carry so much meaning for us later? Could this be another ‘prophecy fulfilled’?




This might help:

Per Strong’s concordance, the word “Chabburah” appears in the OT 7 times, and each time it is translated as “bruise,” “stripe,” “wound,” “welt,” “scourging.” These are found in:

Genesis 4:23 - “u-ild l-chbrth-i” - “and a young man to my hurt
~translation from

Exodus 21:25 (twice) - “chbure thchth chbure” - “stripe for stripe
~transation from

Psalm 38:5 - “ebaishu nmqu chburth-i” - “My wounds stink [and] are corrupt”
~translation from

Proverbs 20:30 - “chbruth phtzo thmriq thmruq b-ro” - “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil”
~translation from

Isaiah 1:6 - “phtzo u-chbure u-mke trie la - zru” - “[but] wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed”
~translation from

Isaiah 53:5 - “u-b-chbrth-u nrpha - l-nu” - “and with his stripes we are healed.”
~translation from

Given that there is a consistent translation of the word into a “wound” of some form or other, I wouldn’t assume the writer of Isaiah meant more than just that. If the word took on a later meaning or connotation of “group” or “get-together” I would surmise that it is likely derived from the practice of public punishment. That is to say, if someone was found guilty of a crime, either people would gather to witness their punishment (public flogging), or a mob would form to exact vigilante justice (stoning to death).

If this is the sense, then by calling the Last Supper a “Chubarah,” one might surmise the implication that the Last Supper was a “gathering to witness the public punishment.” As the Mass is later associated with the term “Chubarah,” we might further surmise that this is exactly what is intended by the meaning of the word, since the Mass is exactly that, a witness to the Crucifixion.


Strange that this verse came up…I just saw the movie 12 years a slave, and one of the worst slave owners in the movie used this very verse when speaking to a new group of slaves on his plantation, he emphasized ‘stripes’, and to him, this was biblical proof (for him) to justify whipping his slaves into submission, and the ‘stripes’ were taken to be the marks left on the slaves backs after being whipped.


The wounds of his flesh from the flogging represent our sins of the flesh. Don’t have to believe it if you don’t want to. When praying the rosery it points you in that direction.


I know that ‘wound’ fits in the other situations, but it just doesn’t (for me) in Isaiah. Particularly because it is Isaiah as well as the sentence is non-sensical (to me)…“by His ‘wounds’ we are healed”.

Perhaps "chubarah’ used as ‘gathering’ isn’t the answer in that context, but it at least gave me a ‘way in’ never seen before. Gesenius gives several possible meanings, one of which is the ‘stripe’ of an animal…intriguing, that one. Animals are terribly popular in the Bible, although I’m not aware of any striped lambs. :wink:

Will just keep mulling it over from time to time and maybe something will click eventually. :slight_smile:


Take the verse in context:

Isaiah 53: "[1] Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? [2] And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: [3] Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. [4] Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. **[5] But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. **

[6] All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.** [7] He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. **[8] He was taken away from distress, and from judgment: who shall declare his generation? because he is cut off out of the land of the living: for the wickedness of my people have I struck him. [9] And he shall give the ungodly for his burial, and the rich for his death: because he hath done no iniquity, neither was there deceit in his mouth. ******10] And the Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity: if he shall lay down his life for sin, he shall see a long-lived seed, and the will of the Lord shall be prosperous in his hand. **

[11] Because his soul hath laboured, he shall see and be filled: by his knowledge shall this my just servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities. [12] Therefore will I distribute to him very many, and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because **he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked: and he hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors. **"

In the ritual practices of the Jews at the time of Isaiah, a lamb was sacrificed to God for many reasons, one of which was to “take away” the sins of the people. The practice had come out of long traditions. Starting with Abel, we see the sacrifice of the lamb as a worship offering to God. Later, we see in the Passover, the blood of the lamb protects the Hebrews from death in Egypt.

Another practice that developed over time was that of “scapegoating.” That is, whenever it was revealed that there was some terrible sin within a tribe or town, it was understood that the guilt of the sin not only resided on the individual who committed the crime, but it also rested on the tribe as a whole. This is both understood from the principle that caused the sin of Adam to fall on all men, and also the idea that if one from among them could commit such a crime, then in some way, every one of them was partially responsible for allowing that person to come to commit that crime. Therefore, in order to cleanse the group as a whole, they would “place their sins” on a goat, and then lead the goat into the wilderness to die.

With the ritual practice of burnt offering, and then the later development blood offering after Passover, it was the practice of the High Priest to place the sins of the people (who offered them at that time) onto the lamb of sacrifice, that upon the slaughter and offering of the lamb, the sins of the people would be wiped clean.

So you see, there is a long history in Hebrew thought that the sins of the people, or the nation, could be wiped away, forgiven, by the blood offering of the lamb. But not just any lamb, a pure and spotless lamb. That is, one that was healthy, and had a clean, white coat. What is happening in Isaiah is that Isaiah is giving a prophecy about a man who is righteous and without iniquity (clean and healthy), who is wounded and then killed for the sins of many.

The healing that Isaiah is talking about when he says “by his wounds we are healed,” is the healing of the group from their own iniquities, as was the idea held within the practice of ritual sacrifice. The unique thing about Isaiah’s prophecy is that the ritual sin-offering would be placed on a man, rather than a goat.


As an addendum, I just wanted to make a note about the redemptive meaning of suffering, its role in justice, and how Christ fulfilled justice for humanity through His own suffering.

It can be quite difficult to understand how suffering of any kind can be efficacious when we think about it as an evil. In order to understand how it can be, though, one simply has to see that it isn’t the suffering itself that is efficacious, but our interaction with it.

Human suffering is the natural consequence of sin. This is revealed to us in Genesis. Other religious and philosophical backgrounds approach the question of suffering differently, saying it’s an indivisible part of life, or that it’s a result of the gods/God acting upon us, or that the physical world is itself evil, etc. Genesis gets away from all of that and reveals to us that human suffering is the consequence, or effect, of sin, which is disobedience to God.

As it is a consequence of sin, it is therefore a component of the justice of sin. There are two things that happen when we sin. Firstly, we offend God, and damage our relationship to Him. Secondly, we hurt ourselves, and cause damage to our very nature. This is so because our nature is created by God, and is therefore like Him in its own limited way, and when we sin we act in a way that is contrary to God, which implies that we act contrarily to our own natures. So, the sin has this two-fold effect, we offend God by acting contrary to Him (and necessarily His will), and we damage ourselves because in sin we act contrary to our nature.

Justice is a matter of equity. When we commit a crime, we’ve offended or deprived another person. Justice is the matter of restoring that deprivation, or healing the offence (actually both). In the matter of humanity’s sins against God, true justice must both heal our relationship to Him, and restore what has been lost, or damaged in ourselves (our natures).

A further principle of justice is that the punishment, or restitution, must be appropriate to the crime committed. That is to say, if money was stolen, money or its equivalent must be returned. If injury is caused, injury must be repaid in kind (this usually comes in the form of jail time: the injury has somehow deprived the offended party of some form of freedom, such as freedom of mobility, freedom to earn wages, etc, thus jail time is sentenced to deprive the offender of his freedom). This is important, because the punishment for our sins against God must include both the nature of the offence as well as the consequences of the offence. And the nature of the offence of our sins is disobedience and the consequences are suffering and death.

To enact proper restitution for our sins against God, then, we must endure suffering and be obedient. Christ accomplished this completely, so redemption (the healing of our relationship to God) is accomplished, and salvation (the restoration of our natures to perfection) is possible.

But how does His obedience and sacrifice (acceptance of the consequences of sin: suffering and death) affect healing and restoration in us? The offence against God was satisfied by Christ’s obedience and sacrifice, thus we are redeemed because the satisfaction that was demanded by God was against the human family, not merely against Adam. For if it were, we could not have been affected by Adam’s sin. As for salvation, that comes about through the mysterious union that He allows us to have with Him. As members of the Church, we are members of His Body. We are one flesh with Him. So, we share in His obedience and sacrifice when we are both obedient and sacrificial. Ours and His become one and the same act, not two separate acts. Thus, the salvation wrought by Christ is extended to all men who unite themselves to Him, because through Him, their obedience and sacrifice are His, brought to perfection.

Also, for another aspect of this question, please watch the following presentation on the Trinity. You don’t have to watch the whole thing if you don’t want to, but starting around minute-mark 42:00, the presenter makes the case that the doctrines of redemption and salvation depend of the Trinitarian nature of God. You will see how this ties to the question of justice, as I’ve discussed above. Enjoy! :smiley:


I doubt there can be a ‘meeting of the minds’ on several ideas you have expressed, including key points in the video. So, I’m gonna pass and avoid a forum quagmire. :wink:


Cheers, and God bless you!


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