Isaiah 42:2

He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the streets.

This verse is supposed to be Messianic.

John 2:15

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

How do these two verses reconcile?

4 Answers 4


The book of Isaiah contains four, so-called, "servant songs" which are all Messianic:

  • Isaiah 42:1–4; see Matt 12:16-21
  • Isaiah 49:1–6; see Luke 2:32
  • Isaiah 50:4–7; see Luke 9:51
  • Isaiah 52:13–53:12; see Luke 22:37, Matthew 8:17, Mark 15:28, John 12:38, Acts 8:32–33, Romans 10:16, 15:21 and 1 Peter 2:22.

The last of these is the most famous and most often quoted. All discuss the suffering servant of YHWH. The emphasis in all of them is attitude of the suffering servant - that Messiah would suffer without complaint. This He certainly did and never made any attempt to defend Himself before Pilate and Herod.

However, this does not preclude the fact that Messiah would be assertive. We see this a number of times where Jesus was very forthright such:

  • Jesus' harsh condemnation of the scribes' and Pharisees' hypocrisy in Matt 23
  • Jesus' clearing the temple in John 2 and Matt 21:12-17

Thus, the two references are not at odds.


John Gill always explains such difficult passages of prophecies very well using the Jewish sources, where one should always look for the interpretation of the scripture along with a proper study of midrash hermeneutics, without which you can interpret nothing. The attack on the sinners was not aimed to gain popularity and create controversy, in any case, you should not interpret any verse with a narrow lens of absolutes.

Ibn Ezra:

He shall not cry, as the judge is used to do.1 Nor cause his voice to be heard in the street, in order that people should flock unto him.

Rashi writes,

nor shall he raise [his voice] He shall not raise his voice. It will not be necessary to admonish and to prophesy to the nations, for they will come by themselves to learn from them [i.e., from Israel], as the matter is stated (Zech. 8:23): “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

On Isaiah 42:2, Gill writes:

He shall not cry,..... According to Aben Ezra and Kimchi, as a judge in court is obliged to extend his voice that he may be heard: the Evangelist Matthew renders it, "he shall not strive"; or contend in a disputatious way, about mere words and things to no profit, or litigate a point in law; he shall bring no complaints, or enter an action against any, but rather suffer wrong, as he advises his followers, Mt 5:40, for this does not respect the lowness of his voice in his ministry; in this sense he often cried, as Wisdom is said to do, Pr 1:20: "nor lift up"; that is, his voice, as Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech supply it; or, as others, he shall not lift up faces, or accept persons; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it,

neither shall he accept any person; or the person of any man, which is true of Christ; but the former sense seems best, which agrees with what goes before and follows after:

nor cause his voice to be heard in the street; his voice was heard in the street in a ministerial way; he sometimes preached in the street, as in many other public places, Lu 13:26, but not in a clamorous contentious way; not in an opprobrious and menacing manner; nor in a way of ostentation, boasting of himself, his doctrines, and miracles, but behaved with great humility and meekness; his kingdom was without pomp and noise, which worldly princes are attended with; but this was not to be, nor was it his case; [See comments on Mt 12:19].

[Matt 12:17-21 RV] that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Behold, my servant whom I have chosen; My beloved in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, And he shall declare judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry aloud; Neither shall any one hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, And smoking flax shall he not quench, Till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles hope.

Gill On Matt 12:19:

He shall not strive,.... Or contend in a wrangling way, as the disputers of this world do about words to no profit, and for the sake of victory only, and popular applause, but shall choose rather to withdraw, than to carry on a controversy to a great length, to little purpose; or, as men litigate a point in a court of judicature, where one is plaintiff, and the other defendant. In the Hebrew text it is, "he shall not cry"; he shall not act the part of a plaintiff; he shall not complain, or bring in any charge, or accusation against any, but choose rather to suffer wrong, than to contend: thus צעקה signifies such a cry, as is a complaint of injustice, Isa 5:7 and צועק a plaintiff, one that brings an action against another {l}: but Christ did not so, he would not accuse to the Father, nor complain against his most implacable enemies, but left that to Moses, in whom they trusted; "nor cry", or, as in the Hebrew text, lift up; that is, his voice, in a clamorous way, using reviling and opprobrious language, or menaces and threatenings; but, on the contrary, he silently put up all abuses, and patiently bore every affront, and behaved peaceably, quietly, committing himself and cause to a righteous God.

Neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets; or, as in the Hebrew text, "nor cause his voice to be heard in the street": the sense is the same, and the meaning is, that he sought not worldly honour, popular applause, and to be seen of men; he did nothing in an ostentatious way, said nothing in his own commendation, was never heard to praise himself, and chose that others should be silent concerning him: for this does not so much regard the lowness of his voice, as if that was not so sonorous as to be heard without doors, when he preached within, as his modest mein and suitable deportment; nor the places where he usually ministered, which was sometimes in the street, as well as in an house, or on a mountain, or by the sea side, or in the temple, and the synagogues. The Ethiopic version here is very wrong, "no man shall hear his voice in the synagogues"; for his voice was often heard there.

{l} Vid. Cocc. Heb. Lex. in rad. צעק.

LXX Isa 42:2

οὐ κεκράξεται οὐδὲ ἀνήσει οὐδὲ ἀκουσθήσεται ἔξω ἡ φωνὴ αὐτοῦ

It has in addition ἀνήσει (from ἀνίημι) meaning let go, loosen; release; incite, impel, prompt; expose, lay bare. Thus, the verse seems to talk about the humility of the Messiah, that he will not be arrogant, quarrelsome, seeking to gain attraction and popularity.


You can not reconcile Isaiah 42:2 'He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the streets'. with John 2:15 'So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables'.

Nor can it be reconciled with a number of other passages.

However the answer is simple, Isaiah 42 does not relate to Jesus.

A similar passage, which most would presume relates to Jesus, but does not as it would contradict John 2:15 and many other passages as we will see below.

Isaiah 53:7 - 7He 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 her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.

Isaiah 42:2 & 53 above can be taken as;

i) He did not Object to Gods will

ii) OR he literally did not speak a word.

some passages that clearly do not relate to Jesus, my bracket comments;

Isaiah 53:10 he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days (no record of Jesus seeing his offspring or his days prolonged).

Isaiah 53:7 states that "he did not open his mouth" (Yet Jesus did "Eloi Eloi lama sabachtani!")

Jesus did speak at his trial and he spoke on the cross. Luke 22:44 And in His anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground & "My GOD my GOD, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) - see link for more detail was Jesus was Forsaken - https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/62632/33268

Isaiah 42 again my bracket comments;

42 Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my Spirit upon him;(my chosen is clearly a person not the Holy Spirit / Trinity) he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. (Jesus was a Jew and sent to the House of Israel, not the gentiles) 2 He will not cry, nor lift up his voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street.(clearly contradicts John 2:15, Matt 21:13 & Mark 15:39 “so cried out and gave up the Ghost….”) 3 A bruised reed will he not break, and a dimly burning wick will he not quench: he will bring forth justice (Jesus never provided justice as he was rejected by his people) in truth. 4 He will not fail nor be discouraged (arguably Jesus failed and was discouraged as he was rejected), till he have set justice in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his law(Jesus never made/gave any laws). 5 Thus saith God Jehovah, he that created the heavens, and stretched them forth; he that spread abroad the earth and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house. 8 I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images. 9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them. 10 Sing unto Jehovah a new song,(Jesus stated he came to preach what went before, not new Matt 5:17) and his praise from the end of the earth; ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein, the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. 11 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar (Kedar is descendant of Ishmael / Arabs not Jews) doth inhabit; let the inhabitants of Sela sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. 12 Let them give glory unto Jehovah, and declare his praise in the islands. 13 Jehovah will go forth as a mighty man; he will stir up his zeal like a man of war:(Jesus was not a man of war) he will cry, yea, he will shout aloud; he will do mightily against his enemies.

Matthew 26:39-42 - (pleading to be saved not someone wanting to die) 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

There is a lot more to Isaiah, however, the above in my opinion is sufficient to show this does not relate to Jesus.


How to reconcile Isaiah 42:2 and John 2:15 about the Messiah not raising His voice?

The article "Will You Stuble Because of Jesus?" from the Watchtower May 2021 issue explains what Isaiah meant:

Of the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah wrote: “He will not cry out or raise his voice, and he will not make his voice heard in the street.” (Isa. 42:1, 2) Jesus went about his ministry in a quiet and modest way. He did not build impressive temples, and he did not wear distinctive religious garments or demand to be addressed by pretentious religious titles. When he was on trial for his life, Jesus refused to try to impress King Herod by performing a sign for him. (Luke 23:8-11) Jesus did perform some miracles, but his main focus was on preaching the good news. “This is why I have come,” he told his disciples.​—Mark 1:38.

The topic "Street" in the Insight on the Scriptures also brings out this point:

The streets also were places where news was announced. (2Sa 1:20; Jer 11:6) There Jesus Christ taught, and cured the ailing, though not wrangling and crying aloud in the broad ways, which would have caused a public sensation, magnifying his own name and drawing attention away from Jehovah God and the Kingdom good news. (Lu 8:1; Mt 12:13-19; Isa 42:1, 2) Jesus, therefore, was not like the hypocrites whom he condemned for praying “on the corners of the broad ways to be visible to men.”​—Mt 6:5.

The Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 42:1-4 talks about what Jesus did during his ministry. When taken in isolated, individual accounts, yes Jesus did "cry out" (literally upon his death), "raise his voice" (when reproving the religious leaders), and "make his voice heard in the street" (when he cleans out the temple courts). But when we view Isaiah's words across the entirety of Jesus' ministry, Jesus did fulfill the prophecy as written.

For additional information see Chapter 33 "Fulfilling Isaiah’s Prophecy" from the book Jesus–The Way, the Truth, the Life.

[All scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]

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