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The application of the prophecy to the evangelic history is plain and appropriate. Here is no double fenfe: no figurative language, but what is fufficiently intelligible to every reader of every country. The obfcurities, by which I mean the expreffions that require a knowledge of local diction, and of local allufion, are few, and not of great importance. Nor have I found that varieties of reading, or a different conftruing of the original, produce any material alteration in the sense of the prophecy. Compare the common translation with that of Bishop Lowth, and the difference is not confiderable. So far as they do differ, Bifhop Lowth's corrections, which are the faithful refult of an accurate examination, bring the defcription nearer to the New Teftament history than it was before. In the fourth verfe of the fifty-third chapter, what our Bible renders "ftricken," he tranflates "judicially ftricken:" and in the eighth verse, the clause" he was taken from prison and from judgement," the Bishop gives " by an oppreffive judgement he was taken off."
The next words to thefe, "who fhall declare his generation ?" are much cleared up in their meaning by the Bishop's verfion, "his manner of life who would declare," i. e. who would ftand forth in his defence? The former part of the ninth verfe," and he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death," which inverts the circumstances of Chrift's paffion, the Bishop brings out in an order perfectly agreeable to the event; "and his grave was appointed with the wicked, but with the rich man was his tomb." The words in the eleventh verfe," by his knowledge fhall my righteous fervant juftify many," are in the Bishop's verfion "by the knowledge of him fhall my righteous fervant juftify many."
It is natural to enquire what turn the Jews themselves give to this prophecy*. There is
"Vaticinium hoc Efaiæ eft carnificina Rabbinorum, de quo aliqui Judæi mihi confeffi funt, Rabbinos fuos ex propheticis fcripturis facile fe extricare potuiffe, modo Efaias tacuiffet." Hulfe Theol. Jud. p. 318, quoted, by Poole in loc.
good proof that the ancient Rabbins explained it of their expected Meffiah*; but their modern expofitors concur, I think, in representing it as a defcription of the calamitous ftate and intended restoration of the Jewish people, who are here, as they say, exhibited under the character of a single perfon. I have not discovered that their expofition refts upon any critical arguments, or upon these in any other than a very minute degree. The claufe in the ninth verse, which we render" for the tranfgreffion of my people was he ftricken," and in the margin "was the ftroke upon him," the Jews read, "for the tranfgreffion of my people was the ftroke upon them." And what they alledge in fupport of the alteration amounts only to this, that the Hebrew pronoun is capable of a plural, as well as of a fingular fignification; that is to fay, is capable of their conftruction as well as ours t.
*Hulfe Theol. Jud. p. 430.
+ Bishop Lowth adopts in this place the reading of the feventy, which gives fmitten to death," for the
And this is all the variation contended for: the reft of the prophecy they read as we do. The
tranfgreffion of my people was he fmitten to death." The addition of the words "to death," makes an end of the Jewish interpretation of the claufe. And the authority, upon which this reading (though not given by the prefent Hebrew text) is adopted, Dr. Kennicot has fet forth by an argument, not only fo cogent, but fo clear and popular, that I beg leave to tranfcribe the fubftance of it into this note. "Origen, after having quoted at large this prophecy concerning the Meffiah, tells us, that having once made use of this paffage, in a difpute against some that were accounted wife among the Jews, one of them replied, that the words did not mean one man, but one people, the Jews, who were fmitten of God, and difperfed among the Gentiles for their conversion; that he then urged many parts of this prophecy, to fhew the abfurdity of this interpretation, and that he seemed to prefs them the hardest by this fentence "for the tranfgreffion of my people was he fmitten to death." Now, as Origen, the author of the Hexapla, must have understood Hebrew, we cannot fuppofe that he would have urged this laft text as fo decifive, if the Greek verfion had not agreed here with the Hebrew text; nor that these wife Jews would have been at all diftreffed by this quotation, unless the Hebrew text had read agreeably to the words " to death," on which the argument principally depended; for by quoting it immediately, they would have triumphed
The probability, therefore, of their expofition is a fubject of which we are as capable of judging as themfelves. This judgement is open indeed to the good sense of every attentive reader. The application which the Jews contend for, appears to me to labour under infuperable difficulties ; in particular, it may be demanded of them to explain, in whofe name or perfon, if the Jewish people be the fufferer, does the prophet fpeak, when he fays, " he hath borne our griefs, and carried our forrows, yet we
over him, and reprobated his Greek verfion. This, whenever they could do it, was their conftant practice in their difputes with the Christians. Origen himself, who laboriously compared the Hebrew text with the Septuagint, has recorded the neceflity of arguing with the Jews, from fuch paffages only, as were in the Septuagint agreeable to the Hebrew. Wherefore, as Origen had carefully compared the Greek version of the Septuagint with the Hebrew text; and as he puzzled and confounded the learned Jews, by urging upon them the reading "to death" in this place; it seems almost impoffible not to conclude, both from Origen's argument, and the filence of his Jewish adverfaries, that the Hebrew text at that time actually had the word agreeably to the verfion of the feventy." Lowth's Ifaiah,