Isaiah 9:6-7 and 52:13-15, 53:1-2 do not prefigure Christ

Or so this Jewish source claims. More specifically it says Christians misuse Hebrew scripture to prove Jesus was the Messiah. Is the interpretation of the translations accurate in this site? What is a response to this?

Isaiah 9:6-7 refers to Hezekiah not Christ?

According to Judaism, the answer is in the names chosen. The name ‘Hezekiah’ which in Hebrew is ‘Chizkiyah’ comes from the words ‘chazak’ and ‘Ya.’ ‘Chazak’ means ‘strong’ or ‘mighty’ and ‘Ya’ is the shortened name for Gd used as a suffix. Many might recognize the Ya’ in the word, ‘halleluyah’ which means,‘praise Gd.’ Judaism believes that Isaiah 9:6-7 refers to Hezekiah, who reigned for almost 30 years. The name Hezekiah, Chizkiyah, is the same name in meaning, as one finds in the verses from Isaiah 9:6-7, a ‘Mighty Gd.’

And this one which it is argued that the reference in Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:1-12 from the same site above is claimed to refer to the suffering of Jews and not the one Messiah.

In verse 9, the text is translated as, ‘And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death.’ However, this last word in the Hebrew should be translated as ‘in his deaths,’ because the word appears in the Hebrew in the plural. The text reads, ‘b’mo-taYv.’ The Hebrew letter, Yod, indicated by the capital Y in the transliterated word, indicates the plural, as anyone who knows Hebrew would know. To read, ‘in his death,’ the text would have to read ‘b’moto.’ Since the word ‘b’mo-taYv’ actually means ‘in his deaths,’ then for Jesus to fulfill this verse, he must therefore come back to earth and die at least another time. The Jews, personified as the servant as we shall see below, have fulfilled this verse time and time again, because countless millions have died an undeserved death.

Lots of it is based on interpretation. We interpret the Scriptures the way we do because we believe Christ has been raised from the dead as historical fact; it’s hard to see a way around the fact and only a desire to disbelieve can really cause one to not believe in Christ’s Resurrection. Because they don’t believe in Christ, obviously their interpretation of prophecies will be different. :shrug:

Two things from the Old Testament that amaze me are:

  1. The story of Abraham and his son Isaac. I never noticed this until I read City of God by St. Augustine, but in the story the ram that God gives Abraham in place of Isaac is caught in a thicket by its horns. It’s hard not to see the parallels to the crown of thorns Christ wore as he takes our place on the Cross.

  2. The fact that the Sacrifice of the Cross makes perfect logical sense in terms of sacrifice and fulfilling the Old Testament. What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices if not to prefigure the ultimate sacrifice?

It’s amazing how two major themes of the Old Testament, Abraham’s offering and the Law, are so related to the mystery of Christ. And I can’t believe it is by coincidence, especially given the proofs of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Even more “amazing” is that Abraham predicts that God himself will provide the LAMB for sacrifice, but what they find in the thicket is NOT a lamb, but rather a RAM, leaving Abraham’s prophetic words unfulfilled until the “Lamb of God,” provided by God himself comes in the form of Jesus.

I have heard it said, but can’t confirm, that the lambs sacrificed at the Jewish Temple at Passover were staked on small cross-shaped supports for sacrifice, which, if true, would be another instance of details too amazing to be coincidental.

I do not profess to be a biblical scholar, but I do have a theory…

Scripture, like the Church and even Christ himself has 2 natures; human and divine. I believe that the human (Isaiah or his redactor) had in mind a Jewish leader such as the son of Hezekiah. Also, the depiction of the “virgin” birth mentioned by Isaiah has been linguistically criticized to mean “young woman”, not virgin. Some have seen this as evidence that the passages you reference point to an Old Testament figure.

But, the divine inspiration of the words may indeed point to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. The Inspiration of the Holy Spirit works through the authors of the words of scripture and it also works through the assembler of the books of the bible (the Church) as well as the hearers and readers of Sacred Scripture; you and me.

If Isaiah’s intent was to foretell the anointing of a new king, maybe the Holy Spirit’s intent was to foretell the coming of a new king, too. It’s just that they were very different kings…

RE: Lambs on crosses.

The Jewish Encyclopedia seems to support the idea, but does not explicitly prove it.

The sacrificial animal, which was either a lamb or kid, was necessarily a male, one year old, and without blemish. Each family or society offered one victim together, which did not require the “semikah” (laying on of hands), although it was obligatory to determine who were to take part in the sacrifice that the killing might take place with the proper intentions. Only those who were circumcised and clean before the Law might participate; and they were forbidden to have leavened food in their possession during the act of killing the paschal lamb. The animal was slain on the eve of the Passover, on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, after the Tamid sacrifice had been killed, i.e., at three o’clock, or, in case the eve of the Passover fell on Friday, at two. The killing took place in the court of the Temple, and might be performed by a layman, although the blood had to be caught by a priest, and rows of priests with gold or silver cups in their hands stood in line from the Temple court to the altar, where the blood was sprinkled. These cups were rounded on the bottom, so that they could not be set down; for in that case the blood might coagulate. The priest who caught the blood as it dropped from the victim then handed the cup to the priest next to him, receiving from him an empty one, and the full cup was passed along the line until it reached the last priest, who sprinkled its contents on the altar. **The lamb was then hung upon special hooks or sticks and skinned; **but if the eve of the Passover fell on a Sabbath, the skin was removed down to the breast only. The abdomen was then cut open, and the fatty portions intended for the altar were taken out, placed in a vessel, salted, and offered by the priest on the altar, while the remaining entrails likewise were taken out and cleansed.

In order to cut the abdomen open, it would seem necessary to splay the animal and, if sticks were used, a cross of sticks would seem quite an appropriate means.

Only the first half of Isaiah 9:6 could be an allusion to just Hezekiah. Tell me how Hezekiah fulfills the second half though?:

7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Has there been an end to Hezekiah’s rule on the throne of David? What about on the throne of Jesus?

“This time forth and forever more” should speak wonders on who this Prophecy is about.

Well if they believed it was about a Messiah then they certainly wouldn’t be Jewish anymore would they?

Israel is God’s servant in the OT and the new, so this Prophecy which is clearly about a man and has been fulfilled can also mean Israel.

Luke 1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy

Firstly of all, the Catholic Church does not use these verses as proofs but rather as witnesses to Jesus fulfilling them. The writers of the Gospels and the Early Church Fathers saw in them aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry.

And secondly, most of Scripture has more than one way in which it may be interpreted. If it were meant to be historical only, what possible good could it do for anyone’s soul no matter if they believe Jesus is the Messiah or not? In the case of OT historical figures they are prefigures of Christ in the various aspects of their lives. This is known as typology. The CCC offers 4 ways to interpret Scripture:

The four ways of interpreting Scripture: #s 115-119.

The senses of Scripture
115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."83
117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

  1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.84
  2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.85
  3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86
    118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:
    The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
    The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.87

119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgment. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."88
But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.89

I think if you look at what the author of the site says he claims that the second part has not been fulfilled.

You are absolutely correct however from an apologetics stand point how does one respond to the assertion that the Hebrew is mistranslated?

I wonder if the confusion is that the Jews themselves had no agreement of what a messiah was or would do. I understand that a messiah from the house of David was only one version. Now it seems Judaism in its many forms no longer subscribes to a person messiah but rather an age of Jewish dominion which, and I may be wrong, is an Orthodox position. I think I understand that the reform Jew does not believe in a messiah at all now. I also don’t know but it is said some Jews believes scripture lives and changes and that they have altered the Hebrew meanings to suite the sect.

One of the most fascinating things about theology/comparative religion is the differing interpretations offered by different religions :slight_smile:

Hi MI,

If you do not accept the death and resurrection of Christ, then he is an impostor and no prophecies can apply to him.

Prophecies can apply on several levels. If you take Revelation, for example, the fight and victory against evil apply to John’s times, to the Church for all time and finally to end times. You can also apply it to every Christian’s struggle against sin, but that may not be the the intent.

You do not mention Isaiah 7,14, which applies (with the meaning of young woman) to the birth of Ezechias, son of Achaz and (with the meaning of* virgin*) to the birth of Christ

You can agree with the Jewish interpretation on one level but you’ll never agree on the other levels.

What do you think?


Yes and thank you Verbum. I certainly agree with you I am just curious about the “mistranslation” of Hebrew scripture allegation raised in the website and how to respond. Its purely an apologetics question. The thread about the interpreting the reference to Mary was very helpful in addressing this question.

The bigger issue seems to be that the prophetic books were altered when the Septuagint was compiled and later reinterpreted–which the author of this site denies but which appears to be historically accurate. It is also consistent with the modern Jewish interpretation that scripture is mutable, something Christians of all kinds reject.

Hi N1,

The LXX is used widely by the Eastern Churches. You will find a text on the reliability of the LXX by an Orthodox priest at


Honestly, if the website thinks this is what Christians do, they need to get a better understanding of how Christians use the OT. We use it to show or demonstrate how Christ really did fulfill the Scriptures, not to prove that he is the Christ. It’s a subtle but important difference.

Fulfill means that there was a previously understood meaning of what was to be fulfilled. In Judaism, they teach that this is not what the prophecy means. In Christianity, the teaching is often that “these new meanings of the prophecies” were not understood. Respectfully, sometimes these explanations sound a little contrived (IMHO).

IMHO, it seems like there was lot going on with various Jewish groups (including early Christian), Roman domination, Greek philosophy, and non-Jewish pagan “Gentiles”, not to mention religious-political situations. It’s all a matter of belief and faith but I have read Jewish explanations and they seem to be authentic (even inspiring, which is a shock to Christians). Perhaps the Jewish people are taking their “lamp out from under the rock”. I do think that the Jewish people are a huge part of God’s plan and they have been terribly mistreated over the centuries and certainly they could argue that “Suffering Servant” applies to them. They are often superior models for moral behavior.

I think that both Christianity and Judaism can grow with dialog and it is exciting to see what is going on today. In fact could this be part of the “prophecies”? One thing I know - with God, we can expect good and exciting things! :slight_smile:

The suffering servant is Israel. The Jews are not wrong. But Jesus is Israel and stands for Israel. He takes the burdens of Israel and dies as Israel and rises as Israel. It’s typology, and tied more closely together than any simple poetry. The verse applies to both in that they are different but they are also the same.

It doesn’t seem that first century Jews anticipated these verses as being Messianic. It was only after witnessing Christ’s death and resurrection and being filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and perhaps through post-Resurrection exegesis by Jesus to his disciples, that this fact became clear. The goal isn’t to prove Jewish objectors completely wrong on this verse, but to educate them on Christian typology and revelation.

It should be noted that the surviving Jewish religion today is not the same as first century Judaism. Not only were various Jewish traditions and schools lost (Essene’s, Sadducees, etc…) and the entire Temple cult, but the surviving Judaism itself is derived from essentially the Pharisees over multiple centuries, had to deal with the loss of the Temple cult, and I don’t think a counter-reaction to Christianity can reasonably be ruled out. In short, I would not take modern Judaism as being completely indicative of what first century Judaism was. Christianity may very well have preserved some traditions that existed at the time but have been rejected by future Jewish generations after Jews and Christians parted ways.

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