The Fourth Servant Song Septuagint: Devotional 2.49 discusses the Septuagint report of Isaiah 53:3b.
Content: Part Three
3b he was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonored, and not esteemed. (Isaiah 53:3b LXE)
Further Descriptions of Suffering and Dishonor
Other English translations of the Septuagint provide synonyms for “suffering” in 53:3b, namely “calamity” (NETS) and “wounded” (Fred Miller). Isaiah uses the word in the very beginning of the book to describe the condition of Judah itself (Isaiah 1:6 LXE). Brenton translates it as “bruise.” Other occurrences in the book of Isaiah refer to a blow of punishment from the Lord, often fatal (Isaiah 14:6 LXE; 19:22; 30:26, and 31). Isaiah uses it again with reference to God’s Servant in 53:4 and 10. Translations for this word from the Hebrew text include “sorrows” (ESV and NASB), “suffering” (NIV), and “experienced pain” (NET).
In terms of fulfillment in the life of Messiah Jesus, readers know from the gospel accounts that Jesus lived what some might describe as a physically demanding ministry. For example, he often camped outside, he walked long miles, he slept little, experienced hunger and thirst, and worked long hours. Of course, the final, fatal “blow” came from God himself, who through the Holy Spirit led the Christ to the cross. Isaiah writes more of that in the verses following.
II. ACQUAINTED WITH THE BEARING OF SICKNESS
Hebrew translations for “acquainted with the bearing of sickness” include “acquainted with grief” (ESV and NASB), “familiar with pain” (NIV), and “acquainted with illness” (NET). Translating from Greek, NETS writes, “knowing how to bear sickness.” The gospel narratives do not record any occasions of Jesus becoming sick himself. He did, however, know more than any man concerning the diseases and illnesses of others. He healed every single person who came to him for help. The gospels describe multitudes of these.
III. HIS FACE TURNED FROM US
Current American English does not often use the metaphor, “turning one’s face away.” Such a bodily motion would indicate, however, a withdrawal from others, an entering into a personal meditative moment, or refusal to communicate. The Septuagint statement seems to indicate a state of shame. That is, Brenton’s translation uses a colon followed by the further explanation that the Servant was “dishonored, and not esteemed.” The Masoretic (Hebrew) turns the phrase around. The people who saw the Servant turned their faces away from him, rather than he from them–“people hid their faces from him” (Isaiah 53:3 NET). In either event, the turning reflected broken communication of some kind.
Isaiah describes the Servant as “dishonored.” Jesus the Messiah/Servant certainly fit that description.
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:59 ESV)
The Jewish leaders picked up rocks again to stone him to death. (John 10:31 NET)
31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. (Luke 18:31 ESV)
and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29 ESV)
V. NOT ESTEEMED
Septuagint Isaiah prophesies that God’s Servant will be “not esteemed.” The greatest fulfillment of this prophecy occurred during the Christ’s passion and crucifixion. What could indicated less esteem than the brutal, purposeful slaying of the Son of God upon the cross?
When considering the second half of Isaiah 53:3 LXE, readers should bear in mind the astonishment expressed in Isaiah 53:1 LXE.
O Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? (Isaiah 53:1 LXE)
Isaiah 52:13 LXE fed the expectation of a highly exalted (in the sense of honored), glorious Servant/Messiah.
Behold, my servant shall understand, and be exalted, and glorified exceedingly.
And yet, verse 13 and the following verse indicate that God is he who will glorify his Servant. The people of Israel will not do so.
As many shall be amazed at you, so shall your face be without glory from men, and your glory shall not be honored by the sons of men. (Isaiah 52:14 LXE)
Jesus alone understood this prophecy and explained it to his disciples after his resurrection from a highly ignoble death.
25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:24-25 ESV)
And, the Apostle Paul and others received commandment from the ascended Lord to spread the gospel among the Gentiles. Paul’s doing so fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 52:15 LXE.
Thus shall many nations wonder at him; and kings shall keep their mouths shut: for they to whom no report was brought concerning him, shall see; and they who have not heard, shall consider.
In other words, in the Old Testament God gifted only Israel with direct revelation of his Word. The Gentile nations had not received it. Neither did Christ minister to the Gentiles. Until Stephen, Paul, and others preached the gospel of the risen Christ, the Gentile peoples fulfilled the phrase “they who have not heard.” Nevertheless, when they did hear, they sincerely allowed their hearts to “consider,” or to “understand” and be saved.
Reader, what about you?
To be continued… Content: Part Four