Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Jesus Had "Offspring"? (Isaiah 53:10)

Someone who goes by "Mac" wrote in the comments for this blog:

DaVinci partly true? Isaiah 53:10 [the prophecied messiah] "...he shall see his seed..." Per this the true messiah was to have had a child. And would he have had a child without marrying the mother, and still be sinless as claimed?

Was Isaiah wrong therefore a false prophet? This isn't opinion, its in the original Hebrew. The same words are translated the same way 39 other times per Bible concordances. With consistency of grammar and voice, it is there. To change grammar pattern and voice mid sentence and back to avoid the straightforward meaning is bad translation.

And, the name of Jesus and other references to the people and places around Jesus are coded in Isaiah 53 with equal letter spacing. Read it for yourself, check several different translations. The King James Version is the one I'm quoting, some translations read offspring instead of seed. In the Latin Vulgate the word semen is used for seed, obviously referencing sexual conception of a child not a broad reference to a vast societal generation. In fact read Isaiah 53:8-10 and notice verse 8 presupposes a personal generation of a specific personal messiah. The question makes no sense unless the messiah has a child or children. If you doubt me use a concordance and check for the consistency of translation of the Hebrew words throughout that translation. And verse 10 frames the seed reference between alluding to the crucifixion and alluding to the resurrection - so its not out of context either...
I replied:

Nice try, but no cigar.

The word for seed in Isaiah 53:10 (RSV: offspring) is the Hebrew zera. As so often with Hebrew and Greek words, it can have a wide range of meanings, including "the royal race" (2 Ki. 11:1; 1 Ki 11:14), and (as seen in the same book), " a race of men" (in an evil or a bad sense: Is. 1:4; 6:13; 57:4; 65:23). This is according to Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979, 254; Strong's Concordance: word #2233).

Also, one must take into account the often-metaphorical application of words in the Bible. The context of the great messianic passage Isaaih 53 makes this clear; for example, 53:5: "with his stripes we are healed" is meant in the sense of "we are saved"; not of physical healing (as some in the "hyper-faith" movement falsely claim, in their promulgation of the false, unbiblical teaching that all men are physically healed and that this is God's will, but some lose out on that because of their lack of "faith").

Jesus is compared to a lamb in 53:7. Offspring in 53:10 is easily seen to refer to his spiritual offspring; not literal. How do we know this? Well, by the very next verse: "he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul . . . many to be accounted righteous." It is the spiritual fruit. We see the same dynamic in, for example, the parable of the sower (Mt. 13:24-30,36-40), which uses the metaphor of seed and planting and watering, to describe spiritual descendants (not physical). Hence Jesus says, in giving the proper interpretation:

He who sows the good seed is the Son of man [i.e., Himself]; the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil . . .

(13:37-39)
Note then that Jesus had seed, but it was spiritual seed ("sons of the kingdom"); likewise, the devil has seed or offspring ("sons of the evil one"). And this is the Greek sperma. So even though the word that can mean (in a broader physical sense) literal offspring is used, this proves nothing in and of itself, because it can also have a metaphorical application. That is exactly what is going on in Isaiah 53:10, as shown by context, the latitude of word meanings for zera, and related usages in the New Testament, taught by Jesus Himself.

As of writing, my reply, above, had been on my blog for five days; yet no sign of "Mac" . . . The "hit and run" tactic of "biblical exegesis" has a long, storied pedigree in skeptical and agnostic/atheist circles. As usual, the biblical interpretation here was exceedingly ignorant, and ignored elementary rules which anyone with a minimal acquaintance with Christian biblical hermeneutics could spot a mile away on a severely overcast day.

Lest this judgment seem harsh to some, I mention it only because in these circles, Christians are invariably accused of being extraordinarily ignorant, and our critics often blithely assume that they and anyone with a fourth-grade education could interpret and understand the Bible better than those who devote their lives to studying and defending it. 'Taint true, and I will point that out every time . . .

END

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