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Isaiah 11-12 is a messianic and eschatological prophecy. It begins by identifying the king.1

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1 ESV)
ויצא חטר מגזע ישי ונצר משרשיו יפרה

The king is identified using two terms, גֶּזַע and שֶׁרֶשׁ. גֶּזַע is only used three times in the Old Testament: here, Isaiah 40:24, and Job 14:8. the exact meaning is debatable. The second term means "root."

The Rod from the "stump" of Jesse would identify the future king as a descendant of David. The Branch from the "root" seemingly looks back in time to who established Jesse. As a way to identify a single ancestor from Jesse, this double identification seems unnecessary. On the other hand the two-fold description could identify two: one descended from Jesse and one from before Jesse.

Based on the LORD's selection of David "...I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” (1 Samuel 16:1) the "root of Jesse" might be taken as a divine entity, not as a reference to David.

The LXX eliminates the first term and uses ῥίζα, "root" for both:

And a rod shall come out of the root of Iessai, and a blossom shall come up out of his root. (LXX-Isaiah 11:1 NETS)
καὶ ἐξελεύσεται ῥάβδος ἐκ τῆς ῥίζης Ιεσσαι καὶ ἄνθος ἐκ τῆς ῥίζης ἀναβήσεται

By placing the sole emphasis on the second means of identifying the future king, it seems as if the intention is to heighten the messianic focus of the passage, and by eliminating the first reference to a Davidic figure, envisions a divine Messiah.

Is the "root of Jesse" in the LXX, a reference to a divine Messiah?


1. Benjamin D. Sommer, The Jewish Study Bible, Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 807

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  • I am struggling to understand what question you are asking here. Isa 11 is a well-recognized messianic prophecy whether one takes the MT or LXX. It simply says that Messiah will come from the line of Jesse through David, the youngest of Jesse's children. So, what is your question?
    – Dottard
    Feb 16, 2023 at 20:55
  • ῥίζας ἐθνῶν ἐξέτιλεν ὁ κύριος Book of Sirach 10:15
    – Betho's
    Feb 16, 2023 at 23:06

2 Answers 2

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It appears that the apostle Paul believed the prophecy of Isa 11 was fulfilled in Messiah, Jesus Christ:

Isa 11:10 (MT) - On that day the Root of Jesse will appear, One who will arise to rule over the Gentiles; in Him the Gentiles will put their hope 

Isa 11:10 (LXX) - And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, and he that shall arise to rule over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust, and his rest shall be glorious.

Rom 15:9, 12 - so that the Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy. As it is written: ... And once more, Isaiah says: “The Root of Jesse will appear, One who will arise to rule over the Gentiles; in Him the Gentiles will put their hope.”

Thus, the prophecy of Isa 11 is about the rise of Messiah from the royal line of David in very poetical & metaphoric language. It also includes the fact that Jesus will miraculously arise from this royal line at a time when that royal line (and its royal privileges) would appear dead. Thus, Jesus is often said to be "The Son of David", Matt 1:1, 15:22, 20:31, Mark 10:47, 48, Luke 18:38, etc.

APPENDIX - Comments on Matt 2:23

Many commentators (eg, Ellicott, Barnes, Meyer, Benson, Cambridge, JFB, etc.) believe that Isa 11:1 is a prophecy of Jesus Christ. Of these, Ellicott is typical:

No such words are to be found in the Old Testament. It is not likely that the Evangelist would have quoted from any apocryphal prophecy, nor is there any trace of the existence of such a prophecy. The true explanation is to be found in the impression made on his mind by the verbal coincidence of fact with prediction. He had heard men speak with scorn of “the Nazarene,” and yet the very syllables of that word had also fallen on his ears in one of the most glorious of the prophecies admitted to be Messianic—“There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Netzer (Branch) shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1). So he found in the word of scorn the nomen et omen of glory. The town of Nazareth probably took its name from this meaning of the word, as pointing, like our -hurst and -holt, to the trees and shrubs for which it was conspicuous. The general reference to the prophets is explained by the fact that the same thought is expressed in Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12, though there the Hebrew word is Zemach, and not Netzer.

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The branch of Jesse is a man,GOD is not double toung. Jesus is the branch of David not the branch of Jesse, you can't be Both! The Branch of Jesse is here and He is I.

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