Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant at Qumran.

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Ben C. Smith
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Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant at Qumran.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 25, 2019 4:53 pm

From some old notes of mine:

1QHa, column 4, line 26: 26 [I give you thanks, because] you have spread [your] holy spirit upon your servant [...] ... [...] his heart....

1QHa, column 5, lines 24b-25: 24b And I, your servant, have known 25 thanks to the spirit you have placed in me [...] and all your deeds are just, and your word does not depart....

1QHa, column 16, lines 4-11a: 4 I give [you] thanks, [Lord,] because you have set me at the source of streams in a dry land, at the spring of water in a parched land, 5 in a garden watered by channels [...] ... a plantation of cypresses and elms, together with cedars, for your glory. Trees of 6 life in the secret source, hidden among all the trees at the water, which shall make a shoot grow in the everlasting plantation, 7 to take root before they grow. Their roots extend to the gul[ly], and its trunk opens to the living waters 8 to be an everlasting spring. On the shoots of its leaves all [the anima]ls of the wood will feed, its trunk will be pasture for all who cross 9 the path, and its leaves for all winged birds. Above it will rise all the tr[ees] at the water for they will grow in their plantation 10 although they do not extend their root to the gully. However, he who causes the holy shoot to grow in the true plantation hides, not 11a esteemed [בלוא נחשב], nor known, its sealed mystery.

1QHa, column 16, lines 26b-29a: 26b ... [(my)] residence is with the sick, my heart kn[ow]s 27 diseases, and I am like a forsaken man in pai[ns...,] there is no refuge for me. For my disease has increased 28 to bitterness and an incurable pain which does not stop, [...] over me like those who go down to Sheol, and with 29a the dead my spirit hides, because [my] li[fe] has gone down to the pit.

John J. Collins comments:

John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star, pages 146-147:

1QHa 16 speaks of a shoot nourished by the streams. Isaiah speaks of the Servant as a sapling and a shoot. The terminology is different, but in 16:10 we are told that the one who causes this shoot to grow is hidden, without esteem (בלוא נחשב) like the Servant in Isa 53:3. The shoot in the Hymn seems to be the community rather than the Teacher, but the Teacher is associated with the Servant by the lack of esteem.

Again, 1QHa 16:26-27 reads: "I sojourn with sickness and my heart is stricken with afflictions. I am like a man forsaken!" Isa 53:3-4 is translated: "He was despised and forsaken by men, a man of suffering and acquainted with sickness.... We accounted him afflicted." There is some common terminology here (sickness, affliction), although the distinctive phrase of Isaiah, "man of sorrows," is not reproduced. A clearer allusion to Isa 53:3, however, is found in 1QHa 12:8, where the author complains that "they do not esteem me," using the same verb, חשב, that is used with reference to the Servant in the Isaianic passage, "despised, and we did not esteem him." This allusion is repeated in 1QHa 12:23. The claim of the hymnist in 12:27, "through me you have enlightened the face of the many," may also be taken as an allusion to Isa 53:11, which says that the Servant will make many righteous.

Moreover, there are also some clear allusions to other passages that modern scholars classify as "servant songs." So, for example, 1QHa 15:6-7: "I thank you, O Lord, for you have upheld me by your might and have poured out your holy spirit within me," recalls Isa 42:1: "Here is my Servant whom I uphold, my Chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him." The endowment with the spirit also recalls Isa 61:1: "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed...." This passage is not conventionally classified with the servant songs, but it is also reflected in the Hodayot. In 1QHa 23:14 (formerly 18:14) the speaker says "You have opened a spring in the mouth of your servant. . . whom you have supported with your power, to [be] according to your truth . . . herald of your goodness, to proclaim to the poor the abundance of your mercies."

These passages, then, seem to fall into the same basic category of emulation and fulfillment I have recently posted about. They also provide a set of interpretations of the Suffering Servant before Christianity applied the concept to Jesus Christ.

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