The Servant-Messiah and the Messiah's servants in Targum Jonathan Isaiah

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In Targum Jonathan Isaiah, the Suffering Servant (who is explicitly identified as the Messiah) does not suffer. The passages regarding the Suffering Servant have been systematically rewritten to accord with expectations of a triumphant messiah. These facts are well known and have been explored numerous times in the past. What has not been explored are the implications of this rewriting for the theme of the servants. In the Masoretic Text, the characteristics of the servants are determined by those of the Suffering Servant. The servants emulate the servant to the extent that they suffer in their own right. For Targum Jonathan of Isaiah, the relationship between the Servant and the servants is reconfigured as champion–and–righteous rather than progenitor–and–offspring. This demonstrates that neither the interpretation of the “Servant(s)” theme nor the exegetical construction of community identity were monolithic in Jewish antiquity. In the minority tradition represented in Targum Jonathan, the Servant does not suffer; he protects the suffering, and, one way or another, the Servant-Messiah will assure that most (if not all) Israelites are included among his servants.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIsaiah’s servants in early Judaism and Christianity
Subtitle of host publicationthe Isaian servant and the exegetical formation of community identity
EditorsMichael A. Lyons, Jacob Stromberg
Place of PublicationTübingen
PublisherMohr Siebeck
ISBN (Electronic)9783161608049
ISBN (Print)9783161550423
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2021

Publication series

NameWissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe
ISSN (Print)0340-9570
ISSN (Electronic)2568-7484


  • Aramaic
  • Targum
  • Messiah
  • Isaiah
  • Servant
  • Servants
  • Targum Jonathan


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