Why would the Jewish sages (who don't believe that the messiah will suffer and die), in Talmud Sanhedrin 98b, link the name of the Messiah to Isaiah 53:4, where the context talked about someone that suffered and died?

Sanhedrin 98b

Apropos the Messiah, the Gemara asks: What is his name? The school of Rabbi Sheila says: Shiloh is his name, as it is stated: “Until when Shiloh shall come” (Genesis 49:10). The school of Rabbi Yannai says: Yinnon is his name, as it is stated: “May his name endure forever; may his name continue [yinnon] as long as the sun; and may men bless themselves by him” (Psalms 72:17). The school of Rabbi Ḥanina says: Ḥanina is his name, as it is stated: “For I will show you no favor [ḥanina]” (Jeremiah 16:13). And some say that Menaḥem ben Ḥizkiyya is his name, as it is stated: “Because the comforter [menaḥem] that should relieve my soul is far from me” (Lamentations 1:16). And the Rabbis say: The leper of the house of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi is his name, as it is stated: “Indeed our illnesses he did bear and our pains he endured; yet we did esteem him injured, stricken by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).

  • Who has translated this if you don’t mind my asking ?
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 0:16
  • greetings,It is here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/110287/…
    – capri reds
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 0:26
  • I don't fully understand the question. The text relates a number of connections that individuals made to tie their own names to that of the messiah by finding verses which relate to them. The linked question points to a view that there is, on a deeper level, a reference to a messianic interpretation in that verse. What is more curious is why they connected it to Jer 16:13 when I have yet to find any commentator which sees that one as a messianic reference at all. Maybe they were being driven by the name, not the other interpretations (or lack thereof).
    – rosends
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 2:41
  • Pardon my ignorance Mr: rosends ...Aren't the sages discussing the NAME of the messiah and base their guesses on attributes he would have?
    – capri reds
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 15:49
  • If so, Did they realy think that the messiah will be strikin afflicted by God for the reason mentioned ?! ,the context of the passage they quote ,mention him” led like a lamb to the slaughter", etc…Did they realy think that all those descriptions,apply to the messiah ? !! or their interpretations were nothing other than a midrash type that shows no care for context? ...Can we also assume that their discussion was just joking with each others?
    – capri reds
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 16:00

2 Answers 2


Chazal often took pesukim out of context to teach lessons homiletically; this is an example of that. Does this mean that they maintained that Isaiah 53 speaks of the Messiah? Simply not. Actually each school is choosing a name for the Messiah resembling in sound and meaning the name of that school or its head (see Rashi).

One passage on Sotah 14a illustrates this concept in the same way: There it is expounded Is. 53 as referring to Moshe. Nevertheless, when Isaiah was prophesying he was clearly talking of someone in the future and not Moshe who had been in the past. So, the sages in Sotah were not inferring that Isaiah was actually speaking about Moshe. Just as the sages do not believe that Isaiah 53 literally speaks about Moshe, they also do not believe it literally speaks about the Messiah.

The ancient Jewish view that appears continually in the later commentators is that in its plain sense meaning the servant that appears throughout the Book of Isaiah is Israel.


The verse says וַאֲנַ֣חְנוּ חֲשַׁבְנֻ֔הוּ נָג֛וּעַ, "and we considered him 'afflicted'," which the Talmud considers to a name of Moshiah. That didn't mean that the person described in the passage actually is the messaiah; his death proves that he is not. It just means that the people being spoken for in the prophecy thought that he would be the messaiah as expressed in this name 'the afflicted one.'

  • thank you Mr Mordechai, but pardon my ignorance 1- who are the people being spoken for in the prophecy ? may be you mean the Jews?. 2- and why would they think that he would be the messaiah as expressed in this name 'the afflicted one ?
    – capri reds
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 21:59
  • I don't have answers for either question, just that the Gemara clearly assumes this
    – Mordechai
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 7:24

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