Chapter 22v - Bloodshed and suffering

Continued from Chapter 22u

Bloodshed and vicarious suffering: The Torah view

The blood shed is all-important in the symbolic ritual of animal sacrifice done in the Temple, but forgiveness of sin can be obtained anywhere without the sacrificial aspect.

The sin-offering can help make atonement by being part of the Temple ritual, but it is not required for forgiveness. Only sincere repentance is required. Repentance is a turning point of the heart and mind from sin. This is made clear in Psalms 30:2-3; 40:2, 7 and Micah 6:6-8. Any suffering undergone by the sin-offering either leading up to or at the time of death itself is not what achieves the atonement. Atonement is never vicarious. The suffering of one being cannot atone for the sins of an5 (Ezekiel 18:20-22, 26-28). Neither the servant, nor a sacrificial animal, nor Jesus, can literally take on the punishment of an5. They need not and they cannot vicariously atone. Only the sinner can suffer for, or repent from, his sins.

Hebrews claims that Jesus fulfilled that which the animal blood supposedly only foreshadowed (Hebrews 9:12-14). Jesus execution simply does not fulfill fundamental sacrificial requirements set by the Torah. The crucifixion preparatory treatment, the national origins of his executioners, the fact that he was a human being, the geographic location of his death, the lack of a death caused by a literal shedding of blood respectively would render any potential offering as unfit for consideration as a fulfillment of a biblically required sacrifice. If the New Testament is a continuation of what Christians call the “Old Testament,” it must harmonize with the “Old Testament” — false comparisons will not suffice. The New Testament authors picked and chose what suited them in order to make it seem as if Jesus was a valid sacrifice and that he willingly offered himself as a guilt-offering.

Did Jesus suffer vicariously for the sins of mankind?

Jesus is often portrayed as suffering vicariously for the sins of mankind. No support for such a doctrine is to be found in verse 10. The verse does not say that the servant offered himself on behalf of 5s. Absolutely nothing is said about offering oneself for 5 people’s sins. The verse says, “If he would offer himself as a guiltoffering,” that is, a figurative expression concerning the servant’s willingness to devote himself wholeheartedly to the purposes of God in order that “the purposes of the Lord will prosper by his hand.” Does the use of the conditional mean that if Jesus is the servant he had a choice? God’s promises of reward to the servant are conditional: “If he would … he shall see.…” But, the Jesus of the New Testament did not have this option of free will. If Jesus was part of the Godhead incarnate or a supernatural being sent by God there was no risk of failure and defeat. But, he also did not have a free will choice to abandon his mandate from God. If he was the all-knowing god-man Christian mythology claims him to be when it comes to his alleged mission there could be no question as to whether or not he would fulfill his destiny (cf. Philippians 2:6-8).

Risk is something for mere mortals, possessed of free will that despite God’s foreknowledge of what choice will be made, are left with the final decision. There should be no need for God to promise a reward on condition that Jesus fulfills His wishes (“If he would”). If Jesus is all that Christianity claims he is, then God knew that this incarnate sinless supernatural being would fulfill all that was required of him right on schedule. If Jesus is part of God then he is ontologically incapable of sin. There was no reason to reward one who is said to be perfection incarnate and an equal part of the triune deity with having children and prolongation of days. It certainly makes no sense to think God would promise to reward such a heaven bound eternal being with having children and prolongation of days. Such things are promised to humans not to one who is supposedly eternal. The very use of the conditional shows that verse 10 could not be referring to Jesus.

Self-sacrifice for 5s or self-promotion for more honors and power?

According to the New Testament, Jesus had specific knowledge of his mission on earth and his destiny in heaven. For example: John’s Jesus said: “I … came down from heaven” (John 6:51) and “I know where I came from, and where I am going” (John 8:14). Matthew’s Jesus told his disciples that “he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests, and be killed, and be raised on the third day” (Matthew 16:21). It is even maintained that the Pharisees knew of his prediction that “After three days I am to rise again” (Matthew 27:63). What Jesus supposedly left temporarily in heaven and his alleged additional rewards on his heavenly return are found in Philippians 2:6-11: Before, “He existed in the form of God” (i.e., god-like but not God); after, “God highly exalted him,” “bestowed on him the name which is above every name,” “every knee should bow [to Jesus] in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth,” and “every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord.” Isn’t it strange to say that God rewarded part of Himself for doing what he commanded Himself to do? For this increased heavenly reward, it is said, Jesus knowingly gave up a transitory earthly existence devoid of luxury. Where was the sacrifice if he knew exactly what his heavenly rewards would be?

53:10: “he shall see seed”


The expression in the verse is “see seed” (yireh zer‘a) and appears only here. The absence of a possessive pronominal suffix is a common feature in biblical Hebrew and is understood from the context (e.g., Isaiah 25:11, 59:2, 49:16, 32:11, 33:24, 41:1, 49:22, 65:21). Zer‘a, refers to actual physical offspring or descendants (Psalms 22:31, Isaiah 54:3). It is never used symbolically in the Jewish Scriptures. Christians claim that “he shall see seed” is symbolic and refers to the increase in number of those who believe in Jesus. Christians interpret certain verses in the Scriptures (Genesis 3:15, 38:8; Isaiah 1:4, 57:4; Malachi 2:15; Psalms 22:31; Proverbs 11:21) as referring only symbolically to “bodily seed.” The Christian interpretation is unwarranted, since in each of these verses “seed” is better taken in its usual literal physical sense. For example, Isaiah 57: There the prophet castigates certain individuals (not the nation as a whole) for perpetuating the idolatrous practices of their parents. These verses are a scathing denunciation of wicked offspring who uphold the sinful ways of their parents. Isaiah calls them “sons of the sorceress, the seed of adulterers and the harlot” (verse 3). He then asks: “Are you not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood?” (verse 4), that is, children of parents who live lives of falsehood. They are what the prophet has earlier termed a “seed of evil-doers” (Isaiah 1:4), that is, children of parents who do evil deeds. The people spoken to in Isaiah 57 were conceived in adultery and harlotry; they are the resultant products of transgression and falsehood. Literally, they are children born as a result of parental transgression, a seed born as a result of parental falsehood. When referring to the sins of the parents, the word zer‘a is used since they are literally the physical children of these transgressors. But, these same children are also the disciples, banim (“sons”), of the sorceress (that is, practitioners of sorcery and divination).

© Gerald Sigal