The following article has been edited on 10th of June 2014 and has corrected certain statements in the paper. As such, referrences to Isaiah 53 have been removed from this article and I apologise if I have spread misinformation about Rabbinic Sources. I hope to read them accurately in their context and not misread them.
I remember a discussion that I had a while back with Shadid Lewis regarding Isaiah 53 and in this article I want to tackle the objections raised.
For those who don't know, Shadid Lewis (Companion Of Quran) is a muslim apologist who is seen in the Answering Christianity room and other rooms on Paltalk to do with Islam. However in a discussion with him, He raised interestingly some objections that counter missionaries have raised, hence why I am responding here, as it is relates to Judaism.
Isaiah 53 is often one of the most controversial passages discussed among Jews and Christians. Most Jews contend it's Israel while Most Christians contend it is the Messiah, particularly Jesus.
I was asked why I believe Isaiah 53 is Messianic. It's due to the New Testament forcing it upon me mostly, but it's not only that, it is also some of the ancient Rabbis of old that also convince me of Isaiah 53 as Messianic.
Now let me be straight on this, the Rabbis DO NOT believe Jesus is the Messiah, not to mention there are varying interpretations the passage itself as well as other issues. Also, NOT EVERY Rabbi interpreted it in a Messianic Context. Not to mention there are modern day Rabbinic Jews, who believe Israel and Messiah are referred to collectively in Isaiah 53, which is another topic.
There are Rabbis who say that Isaiah 53 is talking about Israel or the rightous remnant of Israel. Rashi himself stated that Isaiah 53 was about Israel and the church father Origen does record Jews who say it is not talking about an individual. However, Origen is not a Rabbinic Source, he is a Patristic source. I am willing to grant that Origen's letter is reliable and that Isaiah 53 can refer to Israel in a historic context, but this wouldn't refute the Messianic application of a text.
It is important also note additionally that the interpretations of the Rabbis utilize Midrashic interpretation, meaning, they do not hold Isaiah 53 as Messianic literally, but homiletically, as the rules of Midrash dictate that the Pshat or the literal meaning, is not disregarded and overturned by Drash (inquiry), Remez (hint) or Sod (secret).
It is also important to note that Driver and Neubauer's book on Isaiah 53, often misquotes or misreads the Rabbinic Traditions, failing to take into considering that Jeremiah and Moses are considered candidates for Isaiah 53, namely the Tractate Sotah of the Babylonian Talmud and that Midrash Aggadah, the non-binding midrash, is used purely for teaching and is not taken literally.
Putting these issues, It is not my objective of this article to show Jesus from the Rabbis, All I have to demonstrate is that Christians ARE NOT alone in interpreting Isaiah 53 as Messianic at all.
Another subject I want to touch upon briefly is the subject of Jeconiah's curse, which Shadid used against me once. This presents a problem to Islam for a number of reasons.
Firstly, As I mentioned in my article "Rabbinic Dilemma 101" which can be read here, this speaks in length about the subject of the curse regarding issues such as Jesus not being in the cursed line and other things: http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/rabbinic-dilemma-101.html
However, for argument's sake, let's say that Jesus is in the cursed lineage.
IF Shadid wants to attack Christianity and say "No matter how much Jeconiah repents, the curse won't be lifted", he destroys his own religion, Why do I say that? The curse of Jeconiah is often used as an attack on Jesus Messianic credentials, If Shadid wants to use the curse argument, fine, he condemns Muhammad as a false prophet, and is guilty of promoting a false messiah.
Furthermore, there is evidence from the Talmud and of course that Haggai 2:23 that the CURSE WAS REVERSED.
Jeremiah 22:24 “As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “even if you, Jehoiachin[c] son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 25 I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians.[d] 26 I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. 27 You will never come back to the land you long to return to.
28 Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot,
an object no one wants?
Why will he and his children be hurled out,
cast into a land they do not know?
29 O land, land, land,
hear the word of the Lord!
30 This is what the Lord says:
“Record this man as if childless,
a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring will prosper,
none will sit on the throne of David
or rule anymore in Judah.””
Haggai 2:23 “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
These verses show a contradiction at first glance, but why is it that Jeconiah's children will not prosper yet Zerubabbel is made like a signet ring, What's the conclusion? Well, Jeconiah repented, God accepted his repentance AND FORGAVE IT AND THE CURSE WAS REVERSED!!
In Jeremiah 52, Jeconiah did prosper and was given a daily allowance by the king and was allowed to eat at the kings table although he never returned to Jerusalem again. Zerubabbel wasn't a king but nevertheless the Messianic promise was renewed through him and the reason he couldn't sit on the throne was due to the fact a pagan king already had dominion over that area.
There is even evidence in the Talmud regarding the subject of the reversal of the curse which can be seen here.
Rab Judah said: Exile makes remission for three things, for it is written, Thus saith the Lord etc. He that abideth in this city shall die by the sword and by the famine and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out and falleth away to the Chaldeans who beseige you he shall live and his life shall be unto him for a prey.31 R. Johanan said: Exile atones for everything, for it is written, Thus saith the Lord, write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days, for no man of his seed shall prosper sitting upon the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah.32 Whereas after he [the king] was exiled, it is written, And the sons of Jechoniah, — the same is Assir — Shealtiel his son etc.33 [He was called] Assir,34 because his mother conceived him in prison. Shealtiel,35 because God did not plant him36 in the way that others are planted. We know by tradition that a woman cannot conceive in a standing position.
Here is another quote from the Jewish virtual library on the section "JEHOIACHIN".
Fearing, however, that since the king was childless, the House of David would thus cease, the Sanhedrin succeeded in obtaining permission for his wife to live with him. Jehoiachin kept the laws of marital purity during this time, and as a reward was forgiven his sins (Jer. 3:22; Lev. R. 19:6). Even the decree that none of his descendants would ascend the throne (Jer. 22:30) was repealed when Zerubbabel was appointed leader of the returned exiles (cf. Sanh. 37b–38a).
In case Shadid and other Muslims want to make the excuse that "If the curse was reversed, Then God changed his mind", Well I have a video of Sam Shamoun dealing with Jeconiah's curse on my youtube account which deals with their objection of God "changing" his mind which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=535VFi4gJT4&feature=youtu.be .
I will say, feel free to judge that video for yourself.
If Shadid or any other Muslim continues to use this argument about Jeconiah, they destroy the Quran and Islam, it's a simple as that.
Hope this article helps