By his stripes we are healed

What does it mean, “By his stripes we are healed”? Here we read form Isaiah 53:

4 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded as for our transgressions,
He was bruised as for our iniquities:
The chastisement of our peace was upon him,
And with his stripes we were healed.


Tovia Singer explains (in as well as his book) some of the classical explanations. One is that since the Jewish people were created to be a priestly nation, a the light to the world, they are cuplable for the sins of the nations — when the nations fall into sin, it is as a result of a Jewish failure to show them the light, and therefore the Jewish people must be punished. Then, when the Jewish people return to their mission, they can heal the nations by showing them the light.

Another concept, mainly what I found from his book “Let’s get biblical” as I recall, is that when someone observes a holy person suffering they are called to repentance. I.E. when someone is martyred (such as Rabbi Akiva), great numbers of people are called into teshuva (repentance and return to the Lord).

But what about Jesus?

The problem with the Christian interpretation is that it is not logically consistent. First, let us set aside all of the contexual evidence, such as the directly and indirectly stated proofs from Isaiah (numbering more than one dozen) that the suffering servant is Isaiah. Let us merely look at the verse in question by itself and we will immediately see the Christian error; they focus on the “he” and not the “we”. For while it is true that if we assume this refers to Jesus, it does fit the bill of a suffering messiah who brings vicarious atonement; the problem is that “we” do not fit the bill:

4 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Without question, the “our” in “our griefs” is the same group of people referred to with “we” in “we esteemed him stricken”.

What Christian views Jesus as stricken and smitten and afflicted? This is not a mere recognition or acknowledgement of “the passion of the Christ”, regardless of whether or not any individual Christian chooses to believe that way in spite of the text. It is a statement that the very people for whom the servant suffered despised him, in spite of his service to them! This means the verse cannot possibly be about Jesus, cannot possibly be about a suffering Christian messiah who brings vicarious atonement through his death; for if this was true it would require Christians to believe that Jesus was cursed and afflicted by God.

Of course, there is enough in the rest of the chapter to show a disproof; but this in particular I found striking.

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