Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Whose Seed Shall the Messiah See?

Sam Shamoun

The prophet Isaiah spoke of a righteous Servant whom God would exalt after having offered his life as sacrifice in order to make atonement for the sins of God’s people:

“Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 52:13-53:12 King James Version (AV)

The NT writings not only allude to this particular passage to describe the sufferings and exaltation of the Lord Jesus, they even directly quote from it as the following examples show:

“For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.” Luke 22:37 AV

“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.” John 12:37-41

“And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” Acts 8:26-39 AV

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied… Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into… Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,” 1 Peter 1:2, 10-12, 18-20

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:21-25 AV

Thus, as far as the inspired Christian Scriptures are concerned, this is a clear-cut prophecy of the vicarious death, resurrection and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, not everyone agrees that it is, especially Muslim polemicists whose chief aim is to cause people to doubt such prophecies so as to turn them away from their love and devotion to Jesus Christ as their risen Lord and wondrous Savior.

Two Muslims in particular, namely Abdullah Andalusi and Zakir Hussain, in their debates with Christian apologist Samuel Green, have argued that the prophecy in Isaiah says that the Servant will have children. Here is the passage they have in mind:

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed (zera), he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10 AV

They assert that zera always refers to physical offspring, and is never used in a spiritual or metaphorical sense, and therefore refers to the fact that the Servant will physically sire children. These Muslim polemicists use this to prove that this cannot be a prophecy about Jesus since he was never married and did not have any biological offspring.

For those interested in watching these debates, and hearing this objection for themselves, can do so by consulting the following blog posts:

The Message of the Prophets
The Qur'an or Bible - Which is the Word of God?

Suffice it to say, there are a few glaring errors with the above assertions.

First, it is simply not true that the word zera is never employed in a spiritual and/or metaphorical manner, since this is precisely how the word is used by Isaiah himself:

Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed (zera) of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” Isaiah 1:4 AV

“Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed (zera) of evildoers shall never be renowned.” Isaiah 14:20

“But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed (zera) of the adulterer and the whore. Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed (zera) of falsehood.” Isaiah 57:3-4 AV

It is quite evident from the context of the above passages that Isaiah is using zera in a metaphorical sense to describe the moral depravity of individuals who defy God by willfully sinning against him. As such, zera cannot have a physical application in these particular texts unless, of course, these Muslims want to argue that impersonal traits such as transgression and falsehood are capable of physically siring children!

The second problem with this argument is that the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53:10 does not say the Servant will see HIS seed, since there is no his in the original language. The verse merely says that the Servant will see seed, just as the following translations affirm:

Yet it pleased Hashem to bruise him; He hath put him to suffering; when Thou shalt make his nefesh an asham offering for sin, he (Moshiach) shall see zera [see Psalm 16 and Yn 1:12 OJBC], He shall prolong his yamim (days) and the chefetz Hashem (pleasure, will of Hashem) shall prosper in his [Moshiach’s] hand. Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him. NET Bible

As such, the Hebrew text does not specify whose seed the Servant shall see, e.g. does the seed refer to his offspring or someone else’s?

This brings us to the third point. According to Isaiah, Yahweh has sworn to save and justify, e.g. make righteous, the seed of his people Israel:

“For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed (la’zera) of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed (zera) of Israel be justified (yisdaqu), and shall glory.” Isaiah 45:18-25 AV

Isaiah 53 explains that the way in which Yahweh does this is by having his Servant die as a vicarious sacrifice for all their sins, as well as for the sins of the nations:

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed (zera), he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many (yasdiq la'rabbim); for he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:10-11 AV

The prophet even refers to the Servant being pierced for the transgression of Isaiah’s people, i.e. the nation of Israel:

But he was pierced (meholal) [Yeshayah 51:9; Zecharyah 12:10 Sukkah 52a, Tehillim 22:17 Targum Hashivim] for our transgressions, he was bruised mei’avonoteinu (for our iniquities); the musar (chastisement) (that brought us shalom [Yeshayah 54:10] was upon him [Moshiach]; and at the cost of his (Moshiach’s) chaburah (stripes, lacerations) we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 OJB

Isaiah employs the Hebrew word for “pierced” elsewhere in reference to the Arm of Yahweh (the name given to the Servant in 53:1) piercing or cutting into pieces the sea monster or dragon, which the NT identifies as Satan:

“Awake, awake, clothe thyself with oz, O zero’a Hashem [Moshiach; see Isaiah 53:1]; awake, as in the yemei kedem, in the dorot olamim. Art thou not it that hath cut Rachav to pieces, and pierced (maholelet) Tannin [See 27:1].” Isaiah 51:9 OJB

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7-9

“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season… And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:1-3, 10

Hence, the Hebrew word can and does refer to the act of piercing or cutting someone, especially violently.

Nor is Isaiah the only one who speaks of the Messiah being pierced:

“For kelavim have surrounded me; the Adat Mere’im (congregation of evil men) have enclosed me; ka’aru yadai v’ragelai (they pierced my hands and my feet; see Isa 53:5; Zech 12:10 and medieval Hebrew Scripture manuscripts as well as the Targum HaShivim).” Psalm 22:16 OJB(1)

The NT views this as a Messianic Psalm, one which prophesies the sufferings and vindication of the Messiah, just as the following verses illustrate.


My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” Psalm 22:1 AV


“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 – cf. Mark 15:34 AV


“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” Psalm 22:6-8 AV


And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” Matthew 27:39-43 AV


“They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Psalm 22:18


“And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.” Mark 15:24

“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.” John 19:23-24

What makes this Psalm rather significant is that it speaks of the seed which will come to glorify and serve God for having vindicated and delivered his Messiah:

“But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto MY BRETHREN: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed (zera) of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed (zera) of Israel. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A SEED (zera) shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” Psalm 22:19-31(2)

According to the NT, this refers to the followers of Christ, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, since they are said to be the spiritual children that God gave him to save by his death on their behalf:

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, IN BRINGING MANY SONS UNTO GLORY, to make THE CAPTAIN OF THEIR SALVATION perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto MY BRETHREN, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I AND THE CHILDREN WHICH GOD HATH GIVEN ME. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made LIKE UNTO HIS BRETHREN, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:9-18 AV

This means that the seed which the Servant would see are none other than the believers whom God would adopt into his spiritual family and deliver from their sins by the vicarious death of the Lord Jesus Christ!

“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:10-13 AV

“And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” John 11:49-52

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to MY BRETHREN, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and YOUR FATHER; and to my God, and your God.” John 20:17

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh… But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Romans 8:3, 9-17

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:4-7 AV

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure… He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for HIS SEED remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother… And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” 1 John 3:1-3, 8-10, 23-24 AV

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:1-5 AV

Therefore, contrary to the claims of these Muslim polemicists, the seed of Isaiah 53:10 are not biological offspring, but the spiritual brothers and sisters of the Servant whom he saves and justifies by bearing their sins on the cross!


(1) The following is another OT text which speaks of the Messiah being pierced:

And I will pour upon the Bais Dovid, and upon the inhabitants of Yerushalayim, the Ruach (Spirit) of Chen (grace) and of Tachanunim (supplications for favor); and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced [dakar, "pierce through" cf. Yeshayah 53:5; Targum HaShivim Tehillim 22:17], and they shall mourn for Him (Moshiach) as one mourneth for his yachid (only son), and shall grieve in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his bechor (firstborn). Zechariah 12:10 OJB

What makes this prophecy rather remarkable is that the One that is pierced is none other than Yahweh God himself, since he is the One who is speaking in the immediate context!

That this is a clear Messianic prophecy can be easily proven from the fact that even later rabbinic sources interpreted it in respect to Messiah son of Joseph, the Messiah whom they believed would be killed in battle and then subsequently raised back to life. As the renowned Messianic Jewish scholar Dr. Michael L. Brown explains:

“There is also an extraordinary comment about the atoning power of the death of Messiah ben Joseph made by Moshe Alshekh, the influential sixteenth-century rabbi, in his commentary to Zechariah 12:10:

I will yet do a third thing, and that is, that ‘they shall look unto me,’ for they shall lift up their eyes unto me in perfect repentance, when they see him whom they pierced, that is, Messiah son of Joseph, for our Rabbis of blessed memory, have said that he will take upon himself all the guilt of Israel, and shall then be slain in the war to make atonement in such manner that it shall be accounted as if Israel had pierced him, for on account of their sin he has died; and, therefore, in order that it may be reckoned to them as a perfect atonement, they will repent and look to the blessed One, saying that there is none beside him to forgive those that mourn on account of him who died for their sins: this is the meaning of ‘They shall look upon me.’

“What extraordinary words–and they are the words of a greatly respected, traditional rabbi.” (Brown, The Real Kosher Jesus: Revealing the mysteries of the Hidden Messiah, 11. The Secret Of The Atoning Power Of The Death Of The Righteous, pp. 157-158)

And according to the NT, this prophecy was partially fulfilled when the Lord Jesus was pierced through during his crucifixion:

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.” John 19:28-37 AV

The rest of the prophecy will be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth from heaven:

“Behold, he is coming with clouds; and every eye shall see him, even those that pierced him: and all tribes of the earth shall mourn because of him. Even so, Amen.” Revelation 1:7

(2) Dr. Michael Brown’s comments on this particular Psalm are worth quoting at length:

“Psalm 22 seemed especially applicable to Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection, with the psalmist saying things such as, ‘All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads,’ and, ‘Roaring lions tearing their prey open with their mouths wide against me,’ and ‘I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint,’ and ‘My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death,’ and ‘Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and feet’ (or, ‘like a lion they are at my hands and feet’), and, ‘I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me,’ and, ‘They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing’ (Ps. 22:7, 13-18). What a detailed picture of public mockery and physical and emotional agony, and how strikingly it parallels the sufferings of the victim of crucifixion… And it is fair to ask, if this texts is not ultimately prefiguring the Messiah’s deliverance from death, resulting in worldwide praise to God, whose deliverance is it prefiguring?

“Psalm 22 was, therefore, quite relevant to the writers of the New Testament. But it was also cited several times in the most extensive depiction of the Messiah’s sufferings in rabbinic literature, found in chapters 34, 36 and 37 of the eighth- and ninth-century midrash known as Pesikta Rabbati. So, here is a rabbinic text prized by traditional Jews that outlines in graphic detail the vicarious sufferings of the Messiah.

“As translated by Patai (and quoted here only in part):

They said: In the septenary [i.e., seven year period] in which the Son of David comes they will bring iron beams and put them upon his neck until his body bends and he cries and weeps, and his voice rises up into the Heights, and he says before Him: ‘Master of the World! How much can my strength suffer? How much my spirit? How much my soul? And how much my limbs? Am I not flesh and blood?…’

In that hour the Holy One, blessed be He, says to him: ‘Ephraim, My True Messiah, you have already accepted [this suffering] from the six days of Creation. Now your suffering shall be like My suffering. For ever since the day on which wicked Nebuchadnezzar came up and destroyed My Temple and burnt My sanctuary, and I exiled My children among the nations of the world, by your life and the life of your head, I have not sat on My throne. And if you do not believe, see the dew that is upon my head…’

In that hour he says before Him: ‘Master of the World! Now my mind is at rest, for it is sufficient for the servant to be like his Master!’

“Were you aware that Judaism believed in a suffering Messiah like this? The midrash continues:

The Fathers of the World [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob] will in the future rise up in the month of Nissan and will speak to him: ‘Ephraim, our True Messiah! Even though we are your fathers, you are greater than we, for you suffered because of the sins of our children, and cruel punishments have come upon you the like of which have not come upon the early and the later generations, and you were put to ridicule and held in contempt by the nations of the world because of Israel, and you sat in darkness and blackness and your eyes saw no light, and your skin cleft to your bones, and your body dried out like wood, and your eyes grew dim from fasting, and your strength became like a potsherd. All of this because of the sins of our children. Do you want that our children should enjoy the happiness that the Holy One, blessed be He, allotted to Israel, or perhaps, because of the great sufferings that have come upon you on their account, and because they imprisoned you in the jailhouse, your mind is not reconciled with them?’

And the Messiah answers them: ‘Fathers of the World! Everything I did, I did only for you and for your children, and for your honor and for the honor of your children, so that they should enjoy the happiness the Holy One, blessed be He, has allotted to Israel.’

Then the Fathers of the World say to him: ‘Ephraim, our True Messiah, let your mind be at ease, for put at ease our and minds and the mind of your Creator!’

“And it is Psalm 22, the psalm of the agonies of the righteous sufferer who is delivered from the jaws of death, that is cited a number of times in these chapters, especially chapter 36 and the beginning of chapter 37. Notice also how the Messiah here willingly suffers because of (or, for the sake of) the sins of his people, having to endure rejection, scorn, and mockery, after which he is highly exalted.

“But the point is not that this midrash is speaking about Jesus. Obviously not. The rabbis who composed it really had no true conception of who Yeshua was, and whatever they knew of him through the church of their day, they rejected. My point instead is that the concept of a suffering Messiah is well known in Jewish tradition, and Jews have no basis for rejecting Yeshua’s Messianic claims because he suffered before he was exalted. To the contrary, this is a pattern laid out clearly in the Hebrew Scriptures, and it is reflecting some later rabbinic traditions as well.” (Brown, The Real Kosher Jesus, 10. The Secret Of The Suffering Messiah, pp. 144-146; bold emphasis ours)