It is my view that חלי in verse 3 is most accurately translated as disease, sickness or infirmity. However the word translated ‘acquainted’ appears to be misleading given its connotation.

The word ידע appears 930 times but only once is it translated acquainted, the majority of times its translated to know. As in “he knew sickness”.

How was the man of Isaiah 53 “acquainted” with infirmity?

  • he personally had infirmities and that’s what made him knowledgeable
  • he was around others that were diseased and this caused him to be knowledgeable
  • a combination of both

What is the understanding when one reads this verse, that the man in question is familiar with sickness because he personally experienced a lot of sicknesses or that he was around a lot of sick people and was familiar with their maladies?

(Something to ponder - Does this change, deepen or enhance one’s perception of Jesus’ life on earth whilst incarnated, knowing he potentially got sick, apparently quite often and that although God says in psalm 91 He would protect man from disease, God seemingly chose not to?)

  • Since Jesus had no sin, I do not see how he could suffer disease. 'A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief' does not convey 'disease'. His grief and sorrow can be seen in his words - grief for the house of God, sorrow for the hardheartedness and unbelief of those around him.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 12, 2021 at 4:23
  • @NigelJ that’s interesting you say that, because that explains the translation in English wishing to convey a sinless Jesus, which meant a disease free Jesus but the Hebrew actually reads “knowing sickness” rather than “acquainted with grief”. We also know that Jesus was able to be killed and could bleed, so it’s not a stretch to consider He could become sick. Again, I’m exploring the language and obviously the implications follow as you evidently point out. Apr 12, 2021 at 4:27
  • Jesus could not 'be killed'. John 10:18. No man taketh it from me, I lay it down of myself. Nor in Gethsemane, his sweat was only as it were droplets of blood.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 12, 2021 at 6:28
  • Why do you assume God's עַבְדִּי "servant" is Jesus alone? - In context to Isaiah 49. Apr 12, 2021 at 11:30
  • @חִידָה it’s in brackets for a reason, mostly to avoid comments like yours, so we can focus on the question and the text rather than who is the text speaking about. But since you couldn’t resist, yes this is ONLY about Jesus and no one else. Every Israelite that is told not to read this chapter and hears it read for the first time thinks it’s from the NT and obviously talking about Jesus. Apr 12, 2021 at 11:35

4 Answers 4


Sought out for his ability to heal, Jesus was well acquainted with human infirmity. The text records his innumerable encounters with the sick, the disabled and those who were otherwise afflicted in body or spirit. This verse in Isaiah, however, seems to reference first hand rather than indirect experience of physical infirmity.

  • A man of great pain and familiar with sickness — Is 53:3 (NASB)

There is little indication in the text that Jesus experienced a lot of physical illnesses prior to his death. However, what he endured during his passion and crucifixion undoubtedly caused disruptions to the normal physical functions of his body. For instance, sweating blood is apparently a known but rare physical condition:

During His anxious prayer about the events to come, Jesus sweats drops of blood. There is a rare medical condition called hemohedrosis, during which the capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands break down. Blood released from the vessels mixes with the sweat; therefore, the body sweats drops of blood. This condition results from mental anguish or high anxiety.

— “The Science of the Crucifixion,” Cahleen Shrier, Ph.D.

Blood loss, nerve damage, and many other physiological effects are identified by the same article. Finally, the way the body hangs during crucifixion makes it difficult to exhale, causing a number of conditions that eventually result in death:

The difficulty surrounding exhalation leads to a slow form of suffocation. Carbon dioxide builds up in the blood, resulting in a high level of carbonic acid in the blood. The body responds instinctively, triggering the desire to breathe. At the same time, the heart beats faster to circulate available oxygen. The decreased oxygen (due to the difficulty in exhaling) causes damage to the tissues and the capillaries begin leaking watery fluid from the blood into the tissues. This results in a build-up of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion) and lungs (pleural effusion). The collapsing lungs, failing heart, dehydration, and the inability to get sufficient oxygen to the tissues essentially suffocate the victim. The decreased oxygen also damages the heart itself (myocardial infarction) which leads to cardiac arrest. In severe cases of cardiac stress, the heart can even burst, a process known as cardiac rupture. Jesus most likely died of a heart attack.

Besides the physical conditions, this passage in Isaiah weaves together the tangible and the intangible in such a way that the same words could also be applied to Jesus' spiritual sufferings. If sin can be considered as the spiritual affliction of mankind, then it could be said that Jesus, who knew no sin but was made to be sin (1 Cor 5:21), experienced the spiritual infirmity that arises from sin – the condition of spiritual darkness and separation from God:

  • At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” — Mark 15:34

I agree with the premise of the question stated in the first sentence of the OP as stated in my answer to the previous question, here, > Isaiah 53:3 acquainted with חלי - grief, suffering or infirmity?

The sickness that the suffering servant of Isa 53 would be know is the sickness of our broken humanity (Ps 51:5, Rom 3:10-18) in which the Messiah shared, which He bore and carried (1 John 2:2) as the Passover Lamb (John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:7, 1 Peter 1:19, etc). However, Jesus bore our humanity without sin (Heb 4:14-16, 7:26).

Thus, for Messiah, as prophesied in Isa 53 to be "acquainted" or "know" יָדַע our "sickness" or infirmity as a result of Jesus' experience of humanity is entirely understandable. Whatever Jesus was, He was conspicuously human. Phil 2:5-8, Heb 4:15, 1 John 4:2, 2 John 7, etc.

  • Your response is problematic to me, in that, it doesn’t explicitly state whether Jesus in His humanity experienced our sufferings and diseases or if He merely acknowledged and knew they exist among humans. Apr 12, 2021 at 21:29
  • @NihilSineDeo - that is the point - Jesus "knew" our humanity and according to Heb 4:14-16 experienced all our temptations. In His short 33 years, that limits the experiences but still means that in some way He experienced enough to know the limits of humanity.
    – Dottard
    Apr 12, 2021 at 21:33

Affliction is the term I get from the KJV. I’m currently studying Hebrew so am unable to speak on the translation.

The meaning of affliction makes more sense of this.

of a problem or illness) cause pain or suffering to; affect or trouble.

of a celestial body) be in a stressful aspect with (another celestial body or a point on the ecliptic)

Also in response to people saying certain things about Jesus. In 2Samuel 7:14 The prophet Nathan has a prophecy about Jesus. In such Jesus committed inequity.

“I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men”

The affliction Jesus dealt with was caused by the “rod of men” for which he gained the “stripes of the children of men”. Rod meaning authority of men. Which is why the Pharisees wanted Jesus punished according to their laws. Thus meaning Jesus gained the “stripes of men”. This is the inequity.

The people believed Jesus was sinning. And in many accounts he was. He straight up was not following the commandments set out within the Torah. Various stories can corroborate this.

To which God stated he would “chasten him with the rod of men”.

This led to Jesus having been afflicted. As per the original posts question.

Let me make something clear here. Jesus was not sin free according to Mosiac law. He simply is the one who died for sins and becomes the one who decides them when we go to his father. He did not die for all of our sins. He died for like 98% of them. Spanning Torah, Quran, Latter Day Saints and whatever other source one has with prophets of God. To which we as people must still uphold the main 10. In which there is still a breath room a lotted each soul according to intent behind deed.

This is also why Jesus sinned because of this Devine knowledge. He knew many circumstances were not worth punishing. In such he created inequity within the people.

I wanted to add an edit here.

The reason why Jesus sinned is through the lens and sight of men. Men not privy to Devine wisdom that Jesus held. In such Jesus did not sin as per the Devine knowledge he is sin free.


English Standard Version Isaiah 53:3

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

At https://biblehub.com/isaiah/53-3.htm, 17 out of 25 versions use the word acquainted.

How was the man of Isaiah 53 “acquainted” with infirmity?

He was around others that were diseased and this caused him to be knowledgeable and not that he personally had infirmities and that’s what made him knowledgeable.

The English word acquainted is ambiguous. I'd interpret it in this case as that he is introduced to those who are suffering and become their friend.

Keil and Delitzsch show this kind of nuance:

one who was placed in a state to make the acquaintance of disease. The deponent passive ירוּע, acquainted (like bâtuăch, confisus; zâkbūr, mindful; peritus, pervaded, experienced), is supported by מדּוּע equals מה־יּרוּע; Gr. τί μαθών. The meaning is not, that He had by nature a sickly body, falling out of one disease into another;

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