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We read in Isaiah 53:5 (KJV).

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Many versions, including the NIV, use the word "wounds" in place of "stripes". Versions like the NRSVCE use the word "bruises". NLT for its part reads: "He was whipped".

Which translation of Isaiah 53:5 is most faithful to the original?

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The operative word of interest to the OP is חַבּוּרָה (chabburah). According to BDB this word can mean:

  • stripe, blow, stroke, Genesis 4:23
  • my blow, i.e. for striking me (J), compare Exodus 21:25 (twice in verse) (JE),
  • also of injury to land of Judah (under figure of human body) Isaiah 1:6 (all "" מֶּצַע, see below);
  • of blows (singular collective) inflicted on suffering servant of ׳י Isaiah 53:5; (plural) Psalm 38:6, חַבֻּרוֺת מֶּצַע Proverbs 20:30, i.e. blows that cut in ("" מַכּוֺת).

That is, the word can mean: bruise, scourging, striking, wounding, stripes, etc.

For comparison, the LXX uses the word μώλωπι (dative) = "welt, wale, bruise, wound" (BDAG). That is, the marks left by a blow. That is, it is not the blow itself but the mark left by the blow. Thus we must translate either "wounds" or "bruise", or "wound", etc.

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  • Thanks for the additional depth of scholarship. One source that I didn't check was the Syriac Peshitta (it was late, I was tired), but--and I could be wrong--in general that the Peshitta seems to be more of a paraphrase than a literal translation. Isaiah 53:5 reads "He is killed because of our sins, and he is afflicted because of our evil. The chastisement of our peace is upon him and in his wounds we shall be healed." I found the Aramaic-English interlinear version on the Internet Archive, Glenn David Bauscher's translation and notes. I don't know the antiquity/date of this version.
    – Dieter
    Apr 13 at 16:16
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Fortunately, we can compare the Masoretic Text of Isaiah 53:5 in several modern versions against both the Greek Septuagint translation from the third century BCE and the Isaiah scroll found near the Dead Sea from about 125 BCE.

Septuagint (ABP translation)

But he was wounded because of our sins, and he was infirm on account of our lawless deeds. The discipline for our peace was upon him; by his stripe (mólóps, SG3468, a bruise or stripe from scourging) we were healed.

DSS, Isaiah scroll (Translation by Abegg, Flint, & Ulrich)

But he was wounded for our transgressions, and he was crushed for our iniquities, and the punishment that made us whole was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.

The literal Hebrew of the Masoretic Text uses daka (SH1792, crushed, bruised) as the root word in that verse.

Jesus was both beaten and scourged before his crucifixion, so either translation is acceptable.

Hope this helps.

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  • Thanks, Dieter.NLT text has a smooth flow of concepts: But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Apr 13 at 12:58
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan, the NLT is definitely on the paraphrase end of the translation (thought for thought) rather than the literal end (word for word). As such, it certainly reads much smoother than a literal translation (which reminds me of riding on a potato wagon). The word "pierced" appears prophetically in Psalm 22 and Zechariah 12, as karu, so I believe that the "pierced" in Isaiah 53:5 in most modern translations is an "interpolation" based on a different codex. Nevertheless, Jesus was pierced, striped, and broken for us as demonstrated on the third (hidden) Passover matzah.
    – Dieter
    Apr 13 at 16:37
  • Thanks, Dieter . Sure, you can ride on a potato wagon, and be far from eating the potatoes ! Apr 14 at 2:29
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan, True, but some of us want to understand each potato and all the bumps in the road. Later on, we can enjoy riding in a smooth Mercedes munching on French fries. ;-)
    – Dieter
    Apr 14 at 5:23

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