Are there any academic scholars ,who interpreted the Stump of Jesse ,and all the predictions in the Isaiah 11, as NOT a reference to the far future Messiah and his messianic age,as believed by Jews and Christians? any quotations from their work?

  • Righteous rule of the twig of Jesse (1-10) refers to the Messianic Kindom of Jesus and cannot be interpreted otherwise. From 11-16 Refers to God who will lead a faithful remnant of both Israel and Judah out from the nations (Babylon, Assyria, Egypt ) to which they have been scattered and will bring them safely home. To a certain degree, this happens about 540 B.C.E. Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 8:18

1 Answer 1


Is. 11 is mostly interpreteted as a reference to Messiah, but the dividing line is whether it refers to a far future material reign (e.g. an actual kingdom on earth) or a present spiritual reign (e.g. Christ triumphing on the cross and bringing the Kingdom of Heaven into the Earth to exist as his Church). This dividing line is shared by both lay and academic intepretations on both sides of this material/spiritual divide.

In the spiritual interpretation:

  • references to the root of Jesse are descriptions of Christ
  • "lion laying down with the lamb" are descriptions of reconciliation via the cross
  • "infants being immune to vipers" are references to the power of the Church to resist evil
  • the remnant is a reference to the Church being born in various nations
  • Triumph over Egypt and the creation of the straight road across the Red Sea is a reference to salvation of believers etc

In the material intepretation:

  • references to the root of Jesse are descriptions of bloodline of a future Messiah (in some cases, the second coming of Christ)
  • "lion laying down with the lamb" are descriptions of a future peace or actual reconciliation between animals
  • "infants being immune to vipers" are references to the power of the future Kingdom to triumph over evil
  • the remnant is a reference to the Jews or future Christians being gathered to the new earthly reign
  • Triumph over Egypt and the creation of a straight road is a reference to a military confrontation in the future during which the middle east is subdued by a Messiah-led Israeli nation etc

The present spiritual interpretation was dominant until the 19th Century in Christianity, both academic and lay. For a good example, see Calvin's Commentaries on Isaiah, e.g. for Is 11.11:

It will be objected that this was never accomplished, and that the very opposite of this took place; for as soon as the gospel began, it was followed by various wars, commotions, and dreadful persecutions, and nearly the whole world was disturbed and shaken. And inwardly what peace did the Church enjoy? Among Christians themselves, Satan, by his snares, (Matt. 13:25,) has raised up dreadful disturbances, so that no enemies were more ferocious and destructive than those which were brought up in the bosom of the Church. I reply, the Prophet here includes the whole of Christ’s kingdom, and not merely a single age or century. In this world we taste but the beginning of Christ’s kingdom; and while the Church is harassed by enemies both within and without, still the Lord defends and preserves her, and conquers all her enemies. Besides, this prediction properly belongs to the true and lawful children of Abraham, whom the Lord has purified by the cross and by banishment, and has constrained to lay aside ambition and envy; as those who have been tamed in the school of Christ cease to be desirous of renown. Thus the promise which Isaiah makes in this passage has already been in part fulfilled, and is fulfilled every day. But we must proceed in these exercises, and must fight earnestly within and without, till we obtain that everlasting peace which it will be our happiness to enjoy in the kingdom of God.

Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Vol. 1, pp. 392–393). Bellingham, WA

Starting in the 1800s, the theology of dispensationalism became popular which predicted something like a future material Messianic age -- e.g. an actual kingdom with borders, a government, a population, on earth. In some interpretations, this kingdom will last 1000 years. But that is a recent evangelical protestant phenomena, and not an interpretation shared by many older protestant denominations nor is it shared by Catholic or Orthodox churches, many of whom still hold to more traditional present-spiritual interpretations.

For an example of Academic future-material interpretations, look at J. J. M. Roberts in Hermeneia:

In its original historical context, Isa 10:33–34 promises that God will destroy the Aramean and Israelite hosts threatening Jerusalem; Isa 11:1–9 promises that God will raise up a new Davidic king who will bring justice, well-being, and peace to Judah; and Isa 11:10 expands on that vision by promising that this king will also be the focal point for the extension of that imperial peace to all the nations. Isaiah 11:11–16, then, further expands on these slightly earlier prophecies by returning to the fate of Israel and its relationship to Judah. The destruction of Israel announced in 10:33–34 and in many other of Isaiah’s oracles from the time of the Syro-Ephraimitic War (7:16; 8:4; 9:8–21 + 5:25–30; 10:16–23; 17:1–6, 12–14; 28:1–6) is not Yahweh’s last word concerning Israel. His rejection of his people is not permanent; a remnant of Israel will return, they will be reconciled to Judah, and together they will exercise hegemony over the surrounding region as they once did in the days of the united kingdom under David and Solomon.

Roberts, J. J. M. (2015). First Isaiah: A Commentary. (P. Machinist, Ed.) (p. 177). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

For an example of a modern academic spiritual interpretation, look at Karl Barth, c.f. Karl Barth and the Fifth Gospel: Barth's Theological Exegesis of Isaiah in which Isaiah 11 is interpreted as a prophecy of Jesus Christ as described in the gospels.

Ignoring the majority interpretation of Isaiah 11 as referring to Messiah, there are also interpretations that this passage refers to Hezekiah. See Seitz: https://www.amazon.com/Isaiah-1-39-Interpretation-Commentary-Preaching/dp/0804231311

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.