Objection: “It is not true that the medieval rabbis were the first applied Isaiah 53 to Israel instead of the Messiah.
by Dr. Michael Brown
Answer: “You’re partially correct. The earliest reference to this interpretation is found in a second-century Christian source recounting a discussion between a Gentile follower of Jesus and some Jewish teachers who did not believe in him. But, aside from one passing reference in Midrash Rabbah (where part of one verse is interpreted with reference to the righteous), a specific identification of Isaiah 53 with Israel is not found in any Rabbinic literature until almost one thousand years after Jesus. (In other words, it is not found in the Talmuds, the Targums, or in the Midrashim.) Therefore, the view that Isaiah 53 spoke of Israel can hardly be considered a standard (or, ancient) Rabbinic interpretation, and for the traditional Jew, that’s what really matters.” (See Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, vol. 3, pp. 58-62.)
Dr. Michael L. Brown is founder and president of ICN Ministries, devoted to taking the message of repentance and revival to Israel, the Church, and the Nations. He has preached throughout the United States and in numerous foreign countries, emphasizing radical discipleship, holy living, and the visitation of the Spirit. His books, articles, and messages have been translated into more than a dozen languages. In 1996, he became part of the ministry of the Brownsville Revival, holding weekly sessions for leaders and heading up the revival’s intensive two-year School of Ministry. Dr. Brown is now President of the FIRE School of Ministry located in Charlotte, NC.
As a Jewish believer in Jesus, Dr. Brown is active in Jewish evangelism and has debated rabbis on radio, TV, and college campuses. He is also a published Old Testament and Semitic scholar, holding a Ph.D in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. In 1997, he was appointed Visiting Professor of Jewish Apologetics at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission and has been affiliated with Regent University Divinity School as an Adjunct Professor of Old Testament and Jewish Studies.