Isaiah 52:13

הִנֵּ֥ה יַשְׂכִּ֖יל עַבְדִּ֑י יָר֧וּם וְנִשָּׂ֛א וְגָבַ֖הּ מְאֹֽד׃

Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
        he shall be high and lifted up,
        and shall be exalted.

Isaiah 6:1

... בִּשְׁנַת־מוֹת֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ עֻזִּיָּ֔הוּ וָאֶרְאֶ֧ה אֶת־אֲדֹנָ֛י יֹשֵׁ֥ב עַל־כִּסֵּ֖א רָ֣ם וְנִשָּׂ֑א

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up ...

I’m curious about this phrase "high and lifted up", which is apparently an Isaiah-ism, occurring nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible as far as I can determine.

  • Regardless of whether one thinks they were written by the same person, is 52:13 intentionally echoing a phrase that elsewhere refers only to God?*

  • For those who consider more than one person to have had a hand in the writing of this book:

    • Are these passages considered to have common authorship? (This requires something messier than the 1st/2nd/3rd scheme.)
    • Or is it supposed that a later author had access to an earlier text and intentionaly wrote in that style?
    • Or is it just by chance that this combination of words comes up repeatedly?

* This combination of (qal) √rwm and (nifal) √nśʾ within the same phrase (or once in close parallel - 33:10) occurs in five passages: 2:12-14, 6:1, 33:10, 52:13, 57:15. The first is actually a polemic against those who would so exalt themselves (i.e., over against YHWH), but the idea that the description should be reserved for YHWH is the same.

  • 3
    Wow, great find. I'd love to see a strong answer to this one.
    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 15:39
  • 2
    In addition to your footnote, the root words occur also in Isa 13:2; 37:23; 49:22. And although the phrase "high & lifted up" does appear unique to Isaiah, a thorough study of this phrase should consider all the verses where this pair of words co-occur. Namely: Lv 22:9, Nu 24:7; 2Ki 19:22; Pro 30:13; Eze 10:16. (They also co-occur, albeit less "closely" in these passages: Gen 7:17; Lv 22:15-16; Nu 18:32; Ex 20:28; Dan 11:12)
    – kmote
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 23:36
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    @kmote Thanks. My list is limited to those using rwm and nifal nśʾ within the same phrase or (once) in parallel. (I edited the note to clarify the latter point). Regarding your list of additional passages in Isaiah and elsewhere (part 1), I am skeptical of the relevance but would be happy to listen if you’d be willing to answer to demonstrate it. :-)
    – Susan
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 8:55
  • Don't know the root word, but Isaiah 33:10 seems to be using the same phrase as well.
    – wcochran
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 14:57
  • @wcochran Indeed, that citation is in the footnote of the question.
    – Susan
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 15:29

5 Answers 5


I believe there is no need to think Isaiah 52:13 is "intentionally echoing a phrase that elsewhere refers only to God", because the character was introduced by the prophet with the expression OBDI, 'my servant' (obviously, not Isaiah's servant, but God's). Philippians 2:9-11 explains clearly God's bestowal to the Messiah of the 'high position' yet mentions in the Isaiah's prophecy.

It would be useful to consider the argument cited in Keil & Delitzsch’s Commentary on the Old Testament.

Rosenmüller observes, in Isa 52:13, ‘There is no need to discuss, or even to inquire, what precise difference there is in the meaning of the separate words;’ but this is a very superficial remark. If we consider that rūm signifies not only to be high, but to rise up (Pro 11:11) and become exalted, and also to become manifest as exalted (Psa 21:14), and that נִשָּׂא signifies to raise one's self, whereas gâbhah expresses merely the condition, without the subordinate idea of activity, we obtain this chain of thought: he will rise up, he will raise himself still higher, he will stand on high. The three verbs consequently denote the commencement, the continuation, and the result or climax of the exaltation; and Stier is not wrong in recalling to mind the three principal steps of the exaltatio in the historical fulfilment, viz., the resurrection, the ascension, and the sitting down at the right hand of God. The addition of the word מְאֹד shows very clearly that וְגָבַהּ is intended to be taken as the final result: the servant of Jehovah, rising from stage to stage, reaches at last an immeasurable height, that towers above everything besides (comp. ὑπερύψωσε in Phi 2:9, with ὑψωθείς in Act 2:33, and for the nature of the ὑπερύψωσε, Eph 1:20-23).

  • Format your quotes by using a '>' symbol as the first character of a new paragraph, and end it with a blank line. You should also give the page number of the work you are quoting.
    – enegue
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 23:03
  • Psa 21:14 should be 21:13?
    – wcochran
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 18:34

The NT influence on Isaiah

The NT authors believed in single authorship of Isaiah (source).Thus, the modern theory on the 3 authors of Isaiah is dismissed on the basis of reading the Old in light of the New.

The Hebraic Language of Equality

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1 ESV)

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. (Isaiah 52:13 ESV)

The identical phrase 'high and lifted up' used in both Isaiah 6:1 and Isaiah 52:13 showed us that the persons being ascribed with such a lofty status were in some sense equals.

The Higly Exalted Servant of God

The identity of this person having a seemingly identical status with God was vague at best. Biblical scholars believed that in pre-NT times, the Suffering Servant was none other than the nation of Israel itself. In the NT, he was identified as the Lord Jesus Christ ( cf. Isaiah 6:1 LXX; John 12:41).

The Shaliach Principle

The book of Isaiah was written in the eighth century BCE. On the other hand, Daniel was written in sixth century BCE. Thus, the latter is preceded by the former. Both OT books spoke of persons reigning with God (Isaiah - the Suffering Servant | Daniel - the Son of Man).This meant that God's sharing of his divine authority with another was not a novel idea at the time Isaiah 52:13 was written. Even the Tanakh contained these concepts--perhaps in their infant form--in Exodus 7:1, for example, where Moses is 'as God' to Pharaoh and Aaron his prophet. The culmination of this age-old concept of the 'shaliah principle', according to which a superior who commissioned an agent to act on his behalf regarded that agent as himself, was fully realized in the person of Jesus Christ in the NT (cf. Matthew 28:18; Phil. 2:6-11).


The OP inferred correctly that the usage of identical terminologies to both God and his Suffering Servant strongly implies a kind of co-equality between the two. By taking the Scriptures as a whole we see this as a type of the coming antitype: Jesus Christ the Savior.

  • Good answer. +1. You needed to insert a brief explanation of the shaliah principle, along with a hyperlink, so I added those. Answers such as yours are not popular on this site. I discovered that to my own detriment a long time ago. If you'd like me to develop the cryptic comment I just made, use my email address contained in my bio page to communicate with me. Don Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 15:18
  • The New Testament enhanced and developed the use (or application) of the shaliah principle in various ways. As God's agents in the Age of Grace, Christians are, for example, lights in the world (God only is Light) (Philippians 2:15); ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) ; Christ's witnesses (Acts 1:8); agents of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18); and so on. As preachers often say, "We Christians ARE Jesus to people in the world. We are his hands and feet, his life and lips." Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 15:31
  • Actually the assertions are certainly not identical. YHVH IS high while the servant, who was NOT high was to be "raised up". We see YHVH ordering his servant to sit at his right hand, temporarily so that God could put his enemies under his feet, then the messiah would be put under God's feet so that God may be all in all. "Sit at my right hand UNTIL I put your enemies beneath your feet". -1 for a forced reading.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 14:28

If the OP is asking if the term "high and lifted up" is a kind of "divine description" I think not. Almighty God is ever the "most high one" (or, "highest one") as height is associated with God while bad things are "below" such as Sheol, false kings such as the kings of Babel attempt to "seize" equality with God by ascending into the sky where God's throne is, but the rightful king, the messiah is exalted by God to his right hand for his obedience. That is the point. In exalting his servant God's kingdom is set far above the kings of the earth and in that sense he himself is "exalted" even though he is ever the most high.

As has been pointed out, the cedars of Lebanon (perhaps a species similar to Western Redwoods?) are high and lifted up but they shall be cut down:

New American Standard Bible Psalm 29:5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

New American Standard Bible Isaiah 14:13 "But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north.

New American Standard Bible Isaiah 2:17 The pride of man will be humbled And the loftiness of men will be abased; And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day,

English Standard Version Isaiah 40:4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.


  • Almighty God is ever "the Most High" ("the Highest One")
  • proud ambitious kings attempt to be like the Highest One but are cast down
  • the Messiah alone is to be high and lifted up.

Ezekiel has the same theme:

ISV Ezekiel 31: 2“Son of Man, tell this to Pharaoh, king of Egypt and his gangs: ‘Who do you think you are? What makes you so great? 3Think about Assyria,b that cedar of Lebanon, beautiful with its branches, like a shady forest, with an awesome height, its summit touches the clouds. 4Abundant water made it great, Subterranean rivers made it grow. Rivers surrounded the area where it had been planted, and water channels nourished all the trees in the fields. 5That’s why it grew taller than any of the trees in the fields. Its boughs flourished. Its branches grew luxurious because all the water made it spread out well. 6The birds in the sky made nests in its boughs; all the beasts of the field gave birth under its branches. All the great nations rested in its shade. 7‘Beautiful because it was so great, with its long branches, it was rooted in many bodies of water.c 8The cedars in God’s garden could not compare to it; Fir trees could not match its boughs. The plane treed never grew branches like it, and no tree in God’s garden compares to its beauty. 9I made it beautiful, including all of its branches; all the trees in God’s garden of Eden envied it!’” Assyria’s Fall Due to Arrogance 10“Therefore this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘Because of its towering height, with its summit reaching into the clouds, and because it was haughty in its position,e 11I turned it over to the leader of thosef nations, who dealt with it thoroughly. I have driven it away because of its wickedness. 12Foreign dictators have trimmed it down to size and abandoned it. Its branches have fallen off on mountains and in all the valleys. Its boughs have broken off in all the ravines of the land. All the nations of the earth have moved out of its shade and abandoned it. 13All the birds in the sky will live among its ruins, and the wild animalsg will forage among its branches. 14As a result, none of its watered trees will grow tall, their tops will never reach to the clouds, and they’ll never grow so high again, because all of them have been appointedh to death in the world beneath where human beings go, that is, down to the Pit.’”i

Ezekiel 17:23 "On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches.

The gospels refer to this:

Berean Literal Bible Luke 3:5 Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be made low; and the crooked will become into straight, and the rough ways into smooth.

Paul refers to this:

NASB Phil 2: 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of [a] God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped [seized], 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name [title] which is above every name [title], 10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God [that is] the Father.

So I see it as a description of the messiah, not of Yehovah:

NASB John 12: 31“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. 34The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 35So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36“While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. 37But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?” 39For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40“HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” 41These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.

Association between the messiah's exaltation and Yehovah's exaltation does not mean they are identical, only that in the exaltation of his messiah, Yehovah exalts himself in the eyes of his subjects.


Isaiah 52:13 (ASV)
13Behold, my servant shall [a]deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.

The Greek scriptures leave no doubt as to the identity of the servant. In Acts 8:26-40, the Ethiopian eunuch happened to be reading what is known today as Isaiah 53:7-8 (NIV)

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.

Philip prompted by the spirit went to his assistance,

Acts 8:35
Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

The word “servant” indicates that he will submit to God’s will, as a servant does to that of his master. In so doing, he “will act with insight.” Insight is the ability to see into a situation.

Why was Jesus exalted?

In view of his Son’s loyal submission to His sovereignty and his faithfulness under the most extreme test, God elevated him.

Peter wrote:

1 Peter 3:22 (NIV)
who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Similarly, Paul wrote:

Philippians 2:8-11 (NIV)
8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Granted powers to judge and raise the dead:

Read John 5:19-30.

John 5:26 (NIV)
For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

  • Please format your quotes from the Bible so they stand apart from your own words. Use a '>' symbol as the first character of a new line to start the quote, and leave a blank line at the end to finish it.
    – enegue
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 0:43
  • Eneque: thanks, comment noted ,I am new to the side and have a lot to learn. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 16:45
  • Why the down vote, the answer is correct and it is all based on the scriptures. Please give us your reasons. Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 15:54


Regarding your question "is 52:13 intentionally echoing a phrase?". Yes of course - this is the word of God, and every word written is inspired by God.

2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Inspired means God-breathed, and therefore

  1. Came from Yahweh directly, and quoted by the writer
  2. Words of someone moved my the spirit (Balaq)
  3. Words selected from the many words that someone said, or a record of specific events of the many events in history to make a point within the wider context of the scriptures.

In any event, there is not one word that has been place in the scriptures except the father intended it to be there. Christ says not one jot nor tittle would fail from the law - he would fulfill all. Notice, the jot seems to be referring to the Hebrew Yod, and the tittle perhaps part of the pointing. Hence Christ is saying that not only are the word correct, but every single Hebrew letter is in the right place.

High and lifted up

Isa 52 is a beautiful chapter detailing the restoring of the Kingdom of Israel under Christ in the latter days. Verse 13 seems to be linking Christ to the work of the Seraphim in purging Israel and the nations round, to make them ready to manifest the Glory of Yahweh as a nation. Before he sits on the throne of his father David in Jerusalem for the Millennium, before giving his throne up to his Father (1 Cor 15) after destroying the last enemy - death, when there will be no more Sea (mortal nations).

This reminds me of a study I did a while back. You might find it interesting?

I've uploaded it to my blog as a three part series. The second part touches on the phrase "רָ֣ם וְנִשָּׂ֑א"


  • 2
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