The word Moshiach (מָשִׁיחַ) in Hebrew, means messiah or Christ. The term refers to the Anointed One of God, who will sit upon the throne of David and rule forever.
Messianic Jews are sometimes pilloried for claiming that Moshiach must first suffer, before he takes his throne. The Messianic claim that Isaiah 53 refers to the Moshiach, is widely derided within Orthodox Judaism. As a result, Yeshua-centred beliefs are seen as out-of-sync with traditional Jewish messianic expectations.
Yet Isaiah 53 is not the only place we read of the suffering Servant – Psalm 89 identifies this servant as Moshiach.
Many Jews will know the Psalm from its famous ending (89v51):
אֲשֶׁר חֵרְפוּ אוֹיְבֶיךָ יְהוָה: אֲשֶׁר חֵרְפוּ, עִקְּבוֹת מְשִׁיחֶךָ
Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.
The phrase עִקְּבוֹת מְשִׁיחֶךָ ikvot moshichecha , the footsteps of your messiah, is widely recognised in Judaism as referring to Moshiach.
As is known, the enemies of God and the enemies of Israel cause trouble to the entire process of the beginning of the Redemption that occurs in the footsteps of the Mashiach. In the Psalm, it states regarding this matter: “who taunted the footsteps of Your Mashiach” [Ps. 89:52]. Our Sages have already enumerated all the tribulations that come during the footsteps of the Mashiach.
Here is Rabbi Bar Lev:
It says about the footsteps of the Mashiach, “for they have taunted the footsteps of Your Mashiach” (Ps. 89:52)
It is not just this verse.
Here is Chabad’s official website:
See Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6 and 33:14ff. See also II-Samuel 7:12-16, and Psalms 89. In this context, Mashiach is often referred to as (and identified with) David see Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24 and 37:24-25 (cf. below. note 51).
The Chabad Rebbe identified the Anointed One of Psalm 89 as Moshiach:
The appointment of Melech HaMoshiach has in reality already occurred, as we say in the verse (Psalms 89:21), “I have found My servant David; I have anointed him with My holy oil.” All that is needed is for the people to accept him as king and for the actualization of the total unity between the king and the people — with the complete and total redemption.(The Rebbe, 25 Shevat, 5751-1991)
The sun represents Moshiach, as it is written in Psalms (89:37), “And his (Moshiach’s) throne is like the sun before Me.”
The Holy One, blessed be He, told Moshe: “Just as I have made Yaakov a firstborn, for it says: ‘Yisroel is My son, My firstborn’ (Shemos 4:22), so will I make the King Moshiach a firstborn, as it says: ‘I also will appoint him firstborn’ (Tehilim 89:28).”
So far we know:
- Psalm 89 refers to Moshiach
- In Psalm 89:51, many scholars see the “Anointed One” as Moshiach
What then, of Psalm 89:38?
וְאַתָּה זָנַחְתָּ, וַתִּמְאָס; הִתְעַבַּרְתָּ, עִם-מְשִׁיחֶךָ
But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed.
If Psalm 89 is about Moshiach, then so is this verse Psalm 89:38, detailing how God unleashes his wrath against his Anointed One.
Verses 38-46 further detail the suffering of Moshiach:
38 But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed. 39 You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust. 40 You have breached all his walls; you have laid his strongholds in ruins. 41 All who pass by plunder him; he has become the scorn of his neighbors. 42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes; you have made all his enemies rejoice. 43 You have also turned back the edge of his sword, and you have not made him stand in battle. 44 You have made his splendor to cease and cast his throne to the ground. 45 You have cut short the days of his youth; you have covered him with shame. Selah 46 How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?
What follows is utter despair, by the Psalmist, at the unexpected turn of events, who asks how long God will allow this apparent injustice to continue.
Remember the Psalms were written before the prophets’ writings, and Psalm 89 was likely written over 300 years before Isaiah 53. Therefore, I would see Isaiah 53 as an extension of Psalm 89.
Once this is clear, there is no need to prove how Isaiah 53 is about Moshiach, because Psalm 89 already makes it clear that the Suffering Servant is Moshiach himself, and Isaiah 53 expands on this theme.