Isaiah 53 is arguably one of the most controversial and mysterious chapters in the Bible. Containing an astounding 50 verses, it has been called the ‘Forbidden Chapter’ due to its mysterious and complex contents.
It is believed that a staggering 22 million copies of the Bible have been sold worldwide, however, it is estimated that only 5 million of them have the verse Isaiah 53 in them. This leads one to ponder why Isaiah 53 is so different to other books in the Bible and why is it labelled the ‘Forbidden Chapter’? It is a chapter that has created much intrigue and prompted a significant amount of discussion amongst scholars and religious experts alike.
What is Isaiah 53?Isaiah 53 is the fifty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It is the third of four “Servant Songs”, where the prophet Isaiah foretells of a suffering and victorious Servant-Messiah.
It is sometimes called the “forbidden chapter” due to its significance in the Christian faith.
Why is Isaiah 53 Called the Forbidden Chapter?
Isaiah 53 has been referred to as the “forbidden chapter” due to its influence over the Christian faith. For example, the New Testament references Isaiah 53 often, drawing upon its themes and prophecies.
This has led to some Christian sects viewing the chapter as divinely inspired and thus it can not be questioned. The concept of a suffering Messiah, who would ultimately be victorious, goes against many interpretations of messianic prophecy in the Hebrew system which many Jews look to. This is why the chapter has been seen as controversial from a Jewish perspective.
Isaiah 53 as a Window of UnderstandingDespite its name, Isaiah 53 could be seen as an opportunity to bridge the gaps between Christianity and Judaism. Most, if not all, of the messages of Isaiah 53 can be found elsewhere in the Tanakh. This provides a way for Jews and Christians to find common ground and understanding of the world and their faith.
Isaiah 53 in the Context of the BibleIsaiah 53 is best understood in the context of the Bible as a whole. The Old Testament is brimming with references to Messiah, and Isaiah 53 finishes this account of a suffering servant who will ultimately be victorious.
Other references to the Messiah in the Tanakh include the Book of Daniel, Psalms 2, Psalms 110, and other sections of Isaiah.