Driver and Nebuaer's "The Fifty-Third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters" was intended to be a complete collection of everything said about this passage in Jewish classical literature. First published in 1876, it included an introduction by E.B. Pusey, Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford for nearly 50 years, discussing various objections to interpreting the passage of the messiah. The material here has been vastly abridged; but it includes a cross-section of views, including some who think the passage refers to Hezekiah, or Isaiah, or to the nation of Israel as a whole. But a surprising number of commentators favor an interpretation which sees in the passage references to a messiah who suffers for the sins of his own generation and of Israel.
Extract: A suffering messiah? The belief that the messiah was to be an object of contempt survives in the prayers of the German Jews for the first day of the Passover ( c. 1876). It survived also in the belief of a Messiah ben Joseph, to whom were allotted the sufferings foretold of the messiah. Those who date the mystical books [about this Messiah ben Joseph] to a later time must also bring down to a later date the period during which belief in such a messiah continued. But a suffering messiah, and a messiah who should deliver them from their enemies, were humanly incompatible in the same person. Before the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews looked for the coming of a messiah to save it; afterwards, to restore it. Every token of increasing evil made Rabbi Akiva expect the more the messiah, whom he later found in Bar Kochba. In the rebellion against Antoninus Pius, Shimon ben Yohai said, in expectation of a Parthian invasion, "When you see a Persian (Parthian) horse fastened at the gravestones in the land of Israel, then hope for the messiah".
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