Isaiah 52:13-15 and Isaiah 53:1-3

New American Standard Bible 1995

The Exalted Servant

13 Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and [a]greatly exalted. 14 Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form more than the sons of men. 15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand.

The Suffering Servant

53 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender [b]shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

52:13-53:3 The Westminster Leningrad Codex

13 הִנֵּ֥ה יַשְׂכִּ֖יל עַבְדִּ֑י יָר֧וּם וְנִשָּׂ֛א וְגָבַ֖הּ מְאֹֽד׃

14 כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר שָׁמְמ֤וּ עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ רַבִּ֔ים כֵּן־מִשְׁחַ֥ת מֵאִ֖ישׁ מַרְאֵ֑הוּ וְתֹאֲר֖וֹ מִבְּנֵ֥י אָדָֽם׃

15 כֵּ֤ן יַזֶּה֙ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֔ים עָלָ֛יו יִקְפְּצ֥וּ מְלָכִ֖ים פִּיהֶ֑ם כִּ֠י אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־סֻפַּ֤ר לָהֶם֙ רָא֔וּ וַאֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־שָׁמְע֖וּ הִתְבּוֹנָֽנוּ׃

53 מִ֥י הֶאֱמִ֖ין לִשְׁמֻעָתֵ֑נוּ וּזְר֥וֹעַ יְהוָ֖ה עַל־מִ֥י נִגְלָֽתָה׃

2 וַיַּ֨עַל כַּיּוֹנֵ֜ק לְפָנָ֗יו וְכַשֹּׁ֙רֶשׁ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ צִיָּ֔ה לֹא־תֹ֥אַר ל֖וֹ וְלֹ֣א הָדָ֑ר וְנִרְאֵ֥הוּ וְלֹֽא־מַרְאֶ֖ה וְנֶחְמְדֵֽהוּ׃

3 נִבְזֶה֙ וַחֲדַ֣ל אִישִׁ֔ים אִ֥ישׁ מַכְאֹב֖וֹת וִיד֣וּעַ חֹ֑לִי וּכְמַסְתֵּ֤ר פָּנִים֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ נִבְזֶ֖ה וְלֹ֥א חֲשַׁבְנֻֽהוּ׃

It would be good to try to get a deeper understanding of Isaiah 52:15 which says:

15 Thus He will sprinkle many nations,

I've read some of the exegesis commentaries in biblehub


I might just be pointing out the obvious but my first impression is that Jesus Christ's Gospel message will be sprinkled in many nations. Furthermore, another parallel meaning could be that Jesus Christ's Blood would be sprinkled over many nations.

Could someone please provide an elaborate exegesis on the Isaiah 52:15 biblical verse?

  • What is it that you're hoping to get with the rabbinic-interpretation tag? A Jewish exegesis of Isa 52:15? Commented Jun 4 at 19:52
  • @AviAvraham Why Not? I think a rabbinic-interpretation would be great. The Bible is a complex book, and we need to take into account all kinds of interpretations. :) Commented Jun 4 at 21:05

2 Answers 2


This exegesis will not be elaborate (as an adjective) but it will elaborate (as a verb) on the deeper meaning of this text from the standpoint of the original audience. In so doing I do not mean to invalidate the OP's view that the passage speaks of the sprinkling of Jesus' blood. However, this passage was not understood at the time it was written to be a messianic prophecy about a suffering messiah. Rather it was seen as a poetic description of Israel as the Suffering Servant. In this view, the Servant - often referred in previous chapters as Jacob or Israel - suffers on account of his sins but also on behalf of the world. Soon his suffering will end. Israel will return in joy to Jerusalem and the remnant will become a blessing and a "light to the nations."(Isaiah 49:6) Thus we read in Isaiah 54:

Thus says the Lord, the redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, To the one despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers: When kings see you, they shall stand up, and princes shall bow down Because of the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.

Jewish translations normally render the verse in the OP to mean that the Servant "startles" many nations rather than "sprinkles" them. The editions that I consulted admit that the word is uncertain. However, in context "startles" makes better sense than "sprinkles" because the preceding verse emphasizes that his appearance - depending on the translator - was appalling, amazing, startling, horrifying etc.

כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר שָׁמְמ֤וּ עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ רַבִּ֔ים כֵּן־מִשְׁחַ֥ת מֵאִ֖ישׁ מַרְאֵ֑הוּ וְתֹאֲר֖וֹ מִבְּנֵ֥י אָדָֽם׃
Just as the many were appalled at him— So marred was his appearance, unlike that of a person, His form, beyond human semblance—
כֵּ֤ן יַזֶּה֙ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֔ים עָלָ֛יו יִקְפְּצ֥וּ מְלָכִ֖ים פִּיהֶ֑ם כִּ֠י אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־סֻפַּ֤ר לָהֶם֙ רָא֔וּ וַאֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־שָׁמְע֖וּ הִתְבּוֹנָֽנוּ׃ {ס}         
Just so he shall startle {Meaning of Heb. uncertain} many nations. Kings shall be silenced because of him, For they shall see what has not been told them, Shall behold what they never have heard.”

Conclusion: Jewish translators and exegetes understand Is. 52:15 mean that the Servant "startles" many nations rather than sprinkles them. His appearance is marred and appalling because it (Israel) had been practically destroyed and forced into exile, it's line of sacred kings brought to and end. Although the Servant (Israel) indeed startled the nations, it would soon return to Jerusalem and take its place again as a powerful nation blessed by God.


The operative verb used in Isa 52:15 is נָזָה (nazah) which occurs 24 times in the OT, 21 of which are in the Torah and ALWAYS with a ceremonial function in the Torah signifying "to sprinkle" either water, blood or oil in order to ceremonially cleanse, either from sin or some other uncleanness. Ex 29:21, Lev 4:6, 17, 5:9, 6:27, 8:11, 30, 14:7, 16, 27, 51, 16:14, 15, Num 8:7, 19:4, 18, 19.

  • Lev 4:6 - The priest is to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the LORD, in front of the veil of the sanctuary.
  • Num 19:18 - Then a man who is ceremonially clean is to take some hyssop, dip it in the water and sprinkle the tent and all the furnishings and the people who were there. He must also sprinkle anyone who has touched a human bone or a grave or anyone who has been killed or anyone who has died a natural death.

This is also the case in Isa 52:15 which appears to be alluding to this ceremonial cleansing from sin. The opposite is true in Isa 63:3 and 2 Kings 9:33 where the spattering of blood defiles something.

More specifically, in Isaiah's fourth servant song, Isa 52:13-53:12, the introduction immediately introduces the suffering servant (Isa 52:14) who will thus "sprinkle many nations". The image is of the High Priest sprinkling the blood on the altar or curtain as part of the sin offering.

This appears to be directly fulfilled in the NT by Jesus in its various statements that allude to this verse:

  • John 1:29 - The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
  • Heb 10:22 - let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
  • Heb 12:25 - to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
  • 1
    Do you discount what BDB says: here? - "according to many, Hiph`il Imperfect3masculine singular כֵּן יַזֶּה גּוֺיִם רַבִּים Isaiah 52:15 'so shall he cause to leap (i.e. in joyful surprise, or = startle) many nations'; but perhaps corrupt; CheComm. יַתֵּר in like sense; < יִרְגְּזוּ (for יזהגוים) many shall tremble (v,רגז), GFMJBL 1890, 216 ff. compare CheHpt" Commented Jun 5 at 3:01
  • 1
    @DanFefferman - I beg to differ with BDB and act the witness of the rest of Scripture as documented above.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 5 at 3:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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