Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 53:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

With the rich in his death "With the rich man was his tomb" - It may be necessary to introduce Bishop Lowth's translation of this verse before we come to his very satisfactory criticisms: -

And his grave was appointed with the wicked;

But with the rich man was his tomb:

Although he had done no wrong,

Neither was there any guile in his mouth.

Among the various opinions which have been given on this passage, I have no doubt in giving my assent to that which makes the ב beth in במותיו bemothaiv radical, and renders it excelsa sua. This is mentioned by Aben Ezra as received by some in his time; and has been long since approved by Schindler, Drusius, and many other learned Christian interpreters.

The most simple tombs or monuments of old consisted of hillocks of earth heaped up over the grave; of which we have numerous examples in our own country, generally allowed to be of very high antiquity. The Romans called a monument of this sort very properly tumulus; and the Hebrews as properly במות bamoth, "high place," for that is the form of' the noun in the singular number; and sixteen MSS. and the two oldest editions express the word fully in this place, במותיו bamothaiv . Tumulus et collem et sepulchrum fuisse significat. Potest enim tumulus sine sepulchro interpretatione collis interdum accipi. Nam et terrae congestio super ossa tumulus dicitur. "Tumulus signifies a sepulcher with a hillock of earth raised over it. The word is sometimes restrained to the bank of earth; for the heaping up of the earth over the bones is named the tumulus." - Servius, Aen. 3:22. And to make the tumulus still more elevated and conspicuous, a pillar or some other ornament was often erected upon it: -

Τυμβον χευαντες, και επι στηλην ερυσαντες,π

Πηξαμεν ακροτατῳ τυμβῳ ευηρες ερετμονπ .

Odyss. sii. 14.

"A rising tomb, the silent dead to grace,

Fast by the roarings of the main we place;

The rising tomb a lofty column bore,

And high above it rose the tapering oar."


The tomb therefore might with great propriety be called the high place. The Hebrews might also call such a tomb במות bamoth, from the situation, for they generally chose to erect them on eminences. The sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which the body of Christ was laid, was upon a hill, Mount Calvary. See Isaiah 22:16; (note), and the note there.

"It should be observed that the word במותיו bamothaiv is not formed from במות bamoth, the plural of במה bamah, the feminine noun, but from במותים bamothim, the plural of a masculine noun, במות bamoth . This is noted because these two nouns have been negligently confounded with one another, and absurdly reduced to one by very learned men. So Buxtorf, lex. in voc. במה bamah, represents במותי bamotey, though plainly without any pronoun suffixed, as it governs the word ארץ arets following it, as only another form of במות bamoth ; whereas the truth is, that במות bamoth and במותים bamothim are different words, and have through the whole Bible very different significations; במה bamah, whether occurring in the singular or plural number, always signifying a place or places of worship; and במותים bamothim always signifying heights. Thus in Deuteronomy 32:13; Isaiah 58:14; Amos 4:13; and Micah 1:3, ארץ במותי bamothey arets signifies 'the heights of the earth;' Isaiah 14:14, עב במותי bamothey ab, 'the heights of the clouds;' and in Job 9:8, ים במותי bamothey yam, 'the heights of the sea,' i.e., the high waves of the sea, as Virgil calls a wave praeruptus aqua mons, 'a broken mountain of water.' These being all the places where this word occurs without a suffix, the sense of it seems nearly determined by them. It occurs in other instances with a pronoun suffixed, which confirm this signification. Unluckily, our English Bible has not distinguished the feminine noun במה bamah from the masculine singular noun במות bamoth ; and has consequently always given the signification of the latter to the former, always rendering it a high place; whereas the true sense of the word appears plainly to be, in the very numerous passages in which it occurs, 'a place of worship,' or 'a sacred court,' or 'a sacred inclosure;' whether appropriated to the worship of idols or to that of the true God, for it is used of both, passive. Now as the Jewish graves are shown, from 2 Chronicles 32:33, and Isaiah 22:16, to have been in high situations, to which may be added the custom of another eastern nation from Osbeck's Travels, who says, vol. 1 p. 339, 'the Chinese graves are made on the side of hills;' 'his heights' becomes a very easy metaphor to express 'his sepulcher.'" - Jubb.

The exact completion of this prophecy will be fully shown by adding here the several circumstances of the burial of Jesus, collected from the accounts of the evangelists: -

"There was a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, a member of the sanhedrin, and of a respectable character, who had not consented to their counsel and act; he went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus: and he laid it in his own new tomb, which had been hewn out of the rock, near to the place where Jesus was crucified; having first wound it in fine linen with spices, as the manner of the Jews was to bury the rich and great."

It has been supposed that קברו kibro, his grave, and במתיו bemothaiv, in his death, may have been transposed, as also the prefix ב be originally placed before רשעים reshaim, the wicked. Thus: -

מתיו את ברשעים ויתן mothaiv eth bireshayim vaiyitten קברו עשיר ואת kibro ashir veeth

Yea, his death was appointed among the wicked,

And with a rich man, his tomb.

By these alterations it is supposed the text would be freed from all embarrassment. But see the preceding notes of Bishop Lowth, and the various readings of De Rossi, in loc.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And he made his grave with the wicked - Jerome renders this, Et dabit impios pro sepultura et divitem pro morte sua. The Septuagint renders it, ‹I will give the wicked instead of his burial ( ἀντὶ τῆς ταφῆς anti tēs taphēs ), and the rich in the place, or instead of his death‘ ( ἀντὶ τοῦ θανάτου anti tou thanatou ). The Chaldee renders it, ‹He will deliver the wicked into Gehenna, and the rich in substance who oppress, by a death that is destructive, that the workers of iniquity may no more be established, and that they may no more speak deceit in their mouth.‘ The Syriac renders it beautifully, ‹the wicked gave a grave.‘ Hengstenberg renders it, ‹They appointed him his grave with the wicked (but he was with a rich man after his death); although he had done nothing unrighteous, and there was no guile in his mouth.‘ The sense, according to him, is, that not satisfied with his sufferings and death, they sought to insult him even in death, since they wished to bury his corpse among criminals. It is then incidentally remarked, that this object was not accomplished. This whole verse is exceedingly important; and every word in it deserves a serious examination, and attentive consideration. It has been subjected to the closest investigation by critics, and different interpretations have been given to it. They may be seen at length in Rosenmuller, Gesenius, and Hengstenberg. The word rendered ‹he made‘ (נויתן vayitēn from נתן nâthan ) is a word of very frequent occurrence in the Scriptures. According to Gesenius, it means:

1. To give, as:

(a) to give the hand to a victor;

(b) to give into the hand of anyone, that is, the power;

(c) to give, that is, to turn the back;

(d) to give, that is, to yield fruit as a tree;

(e) to give, that is, to show compassion:

(f) to give honor, praise, etc.:

(g) to give into prison, or into custody.

2. To sit, place, put, lay;

(a) to set before anyone;

(b) to set one over any person or thing;

(c) to give one‘s heart to anything; that is, to apply the mind, etc.

3. To make;

(a) to make or constitute one as anything;

(b) to make a thing as something else.

The notion of giving, or giving over, is the essential idea of the word, and not that of making, as our translation would seem to imply; and the sense is, that he was given by design to the grave of the wicked, or it was intended that he should occupy such a grave. The meaning then would be:

And his grave was appointed with the wicked;

But he was with a rich man in his death -

Although he had done no wrong,

Neither was there any guile in his mouth.

But who gave, or appointed him? I answer:

1. The word may either here be used impersonally, as in Psalm 72:15. ‹to him shall be given,‘ margin, ‹one shall give,‘ Ecclesiastes 2:21, meaning, that someone gave, or appointed his grave with the wicked; that is, his grave was appointed with the wicked; or,

2. The phrase ‹my people‘ (עמי ‛ammı̂y ) must be supplied; my people appointed his grave to be with the wicked; or,

3. God gave, or appointed his grave with the wicked.

It seems to me that it is to be regarded as used impersonally, meaning that his grave was appointed with the wicked; and then the sense will be, that it was designed that he should be buried with the wicked, without designating the person or persons who intended it. So it is correctly rendered by Lowth and Noyes, ‹His grave was appointed with the wicked.‘

With the wicked - It was designed that he should be buried with the wicked. The sense is, that it was not only intended to put him to death, but also to heap the highest indignity on him. Hence, it was intended to deny him an honorable burial, and to consign him to the same ignominious grave with the violators of the laws of God and man. One part of an ignominious punishment has often been to deny to him who has been eminent in guilt an honorable burial. Hence, it was said of Ahab 1 Kings 21:19, that the dogs should lick his blood; and of Jezebel that the dogs should eat her 1 Kings 21:23. Thus of the king of Babylon Isaiah 14:19, that he should ‹be cast out of his grave as an abominable branch‘ (see the note on that place). Hence, those who have been especially guilty are sometimes quartered, and their heads and other parts of the body suspended on posts, or they are hung in chains, and their flesh left to be devoured by the fowls of heaven.

So Josephus (Ant. iv. 8. 6), says, ‹He that blasphemeth God, let him be stoned; and let him hang on a tree all that day, and then let him be buried in an ignominious and obscure manner.‘ The idea here is, that it was intended to cast the highest possible indignity on the Messiah; not only to put him to death, but even to deny him the privilege of an honorable burial, and to commit him to the same grave with the wicked. How remarkably was this fulfilled! As a matter of course, since he was put to death with wicked people, he would naturally have been buried with them, unless there had been some special interposition in his case. He was given up to be treated as a criminal; he was made to take the vacated place of a murderer - Barabbas - on the cross; he was subjected to the same indignity and cruelty to which the two malefactors were; and it was evidently designed also that he should be buried in the same manner, and probably in the same grave. Thus in John 19:31, it is said thai the Jews, because it was the preparation, in order that their bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath day, ‹besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away;‘ intending evidently that their death should be hurried in the same cruel manner, and that they should be buried in the same way. Who can but wonder at the striking accuracy of the prediction!

And with the rich - (עשׁיר ‛âshı̂yr ). The words ‹he was,‘ are here to be supplied. ‹But he was with a rich man in his death? The particle ו (v ), rendered “and,” is properly here adversative, and means “but, yet.” The meaning is, that although he had been executed with criminals, and it had been expected that he would be interred with them, yet he was associated with a rich man in his death; that is, in his burial. The purpose which had been cherished in regard to his burial was not accomplished. The word עשׁיר ‛âshı̂yr (from עשׁר ‛âshar “to be straight, to prosper, to be happy,” and then “to be rich”), means properly the rich, and then the honorable and noble. It occurs very often in the Bible (see Taylor‘s Concord.), and is in all cases in our English version rendered ‹rich.‘ Gesenius contends, however, that it sometimes is to be taken in a bad sense, and that it means proud, arrogant, impious, because riches are a source of pride, and pride to a Hebrew is synonymous with impiety.

He appeals to Job 27:19, in proof of this. But it is evident that the place in Job, ‹The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered,‘ may be understood as speaking of a rich man as he is commonly found; and the word there does not mean proud, or wicked, but it means a rich man who is without religion. In all places where the word occurs in the Bible, the primary idea is that of a rich man - though he may be righteous or wicked, pious or impious, a friend of God or an enemy. That is to be determined by the connection. And the natural and proper idea here is that of a man who is wealthy, though without any intimation with regard to his moral character. It is rather implied that the man referred to would have a character different from ‹the wicked,‘ with whom his grave was appointed. Several interpreters, however, of the highest charactor, have supposed that the word here refers to the ungodly, and means, that in his death he was associated with the ungodly.

Thus Calvin supposes that it refers to the Scribes and Pharisees, and the impious and violent Romans who rushed upon him to take his life. Luther remarks that it means, ‹a rich man; one who gives himself to the pursuit of wealth; that is, an ungodly man.‘ But the objection is insuperable that the word in the Bible never is used in this sense, to denote simply a wicked or an ungodly man. It may denote a rich man who is ungodly - but that must be determined by the connection. The simple idea in the word is that of wealth, but whether the person referred to be a man of fair or unfair, pure or impure character, is to be determined by other circumstances than the mere use of the word. So the word ‹rich‘ is used in our language, and in all languages. The principal reason why it has here been supposed to mean ungodly is, that the parallelism is supposed to require it. But this is not necessary. It may be designed to intimate that there was a distinction between the design which was cherished in regard to his burial, and the fact. It was intended that he should have been interred with the wicked; but in fact, he was with the rich in his death.

In his death - Margin, ‹Deaths‘ (במתיו bemothāyv ). Lowth renders this, ‹His tomb.‘ He understands the Hebrew letter beth (b) as radical and not servile; and supposes that the word is במות bâmôth (hills); that is, sepulchral hills. Tombs, he observes, correctly, were often hills or tumuli erected over the bodies of the dead; and he supposes that the word hill, or high place, became synonymous with a tomb, or sepulchre. This interpretation was first suggested by Aben Ezra, and has been approved by CEcolampadius, Zuingle, Drusius, Ikin, Kuinoel, and others. But the interpretation is liable to great objections.

1. It is opposed to all the ancient versions.

2. There is no evidence that the word במות bâmôth is ever used except in one place (Ezekiel 43:7, where it means also primarily high places, though there perhaps dedenoting a burial-place), in the sense of βωμός bōmos a tomb, or place of burial. It denotes a high place or height; a stronghold, a fastness, a fortress; and then an elevated place, where the rites of idolatry were celebrated; and though it is not improbable that those places became burial-places - as we bury in the vicinity of a place of worship yet the word simply and by itself does not denote a tumulus, or an elevated place of burial. The word here, therefore, is to be regarded as a noun from מות mâveth or מות môth plural מותים môthı̂ym meaning the same as ‹after his death‘ - ‹the grave.‘ The plural is used instead of the singular in Ezekiel 28:8-10; and also Job 21:32: ‹Yet he shall be brought to the grave;‘ Margin, as Hebrew, ‹graves.‘ The sense, therefore, is, that after his death he would be with a man of wealth, but without determining anything in regard to his moral character.

The exact fulfillment of this may be seen in the account which is given of the manner of the burial of the Saviour by Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57-60. Joseph was a rich man. He took the body, and wound it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, a tomb hewn out of a rock - that is, a grave designed for himself; such as a rich man would use, and where it was designed that a rich man should be laid. He was buried with spices John 19:39-40; embalmed with a large quantity of myrrh and aloes, ‹about a hundred pound weight,‘ in the mode in which the rich were usually interred. How different this from the interment of malefactors! How different from the way in which he would have been buried if he had been interred with them as it had been designed! And how very striking and minutely accurate this prophecy in circumstances which could not possibly have been the result of conjecture! How could a pretended prophet, seven hundred years before the event occurred, conjecture of one who was to be executed as a malefactor, and with malefactors, and who would in the ordinary course of events be buried with malefactors, conjecture that he would be rescued from such an ignominious burial by the interposition of a rich man, and buried in a grave designed for a man of affluence, and in the manner in which the wealthy are buried?

Because - (על ‛al ). This word here has probably the signification of although. It is used for אשׁר על ‛al 'ăsher Thus, it is used in Job 16:17: ‹Not for any injustice in my hands;‘ Hebrew, ‹Although there is no injustice in my hands.‘ The sense here demands this interpretation. According to our common version, the meaning is, that he was buried with the rich man because he had done no violence, and was guilty of no deceit; whereas it is rather to be taken in connection with the entire strain of the passage, and to be regarded as meaning, that he was wounded, rejected, put to death, and buried by the hands of men, although he had done no violence.

He had done no violence - The precise sense of the expression is, that he had not by harsh and injurious conduct provoked them to treat him in this manner, or deserved this treatment at their hands. In accordance with this, and evidently with this passage in his eye, the apostle Peter says of the Lord Jesus, ‹who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth‘ 1 Peter 2:20-22.

Neither was any deceit in his mouth - He was no deceiver, though he was regarded and treated as one. He was perfectly candid and sincere, perfectly true and holy. No one can doubt but this was exactly fulfilled in the Lord Jesus; and however it may be accounted for, it was true to the life, and it is applicable to him alone. Of what other dweller on the earth can it be said that there was no guile found in his mouth? Who else has lived who has always been perfectly free from deceit?

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
In these verses is an account of the sufferings of Christ; also of the design of his sufferings. It was for our sins, and in our stead, that our Lord Jesus suffered. We have all sinned, and have come short of the glory of God. Sinners have their beloved sin, their own evil way, of which they are fond. Our sins deserve all griefs and sorrows, even the most severe. We are saved from the ruin, to which by sin we become liable, by laying our sins on Christ. This atonement was to be made for our sins. And this is the only way of salvation. Our sins were the thorns in Christ's head, the nails in his hands and feet, the spear in his side. He was delivered to death for our offences. By his sufferings he purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God, to mortify our corruptions, which are the distempers of our souls. We may well endure our lighter sufferings, if He has taught us to esteem all things but loss for him, and to love him who has first loved us.
Ellen G. White
God's Amazing Grace, 358.2

When Christ came to this earth the first time, He came in lowliness and obscurity, and His life here was one of suffering and poverty.... At His second coming all will be changed. Not as a prisoner surrounded by a rabble will men see Him, but as heaven's King. Christ will come in His own glory, in the glory of His Father, and in the glory of the holy angels. Ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels, the beautiful, triumphant sons of God, possessing surpassing loveliness and glory, will escort Him on His way. In the place of a crown of thorns, He will wear a crown of glory—a crown within a crown. In the place of that old purple robe, He will be clothed in a garment of whitest white, “so as no fuller on earth can white” (Mark 9:3) it. And on His vesture and on His thigh a name will be written, “King of kings, and Lord of lords”.... AG 358.2

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Ellen G. White
God's Amazing Grace, 358.2

When Christ came to this earth the first time, He came in lowliness and obscurity, and His life here was one of suffering and poverty.... At His second coming all will be changed. Not as a prisoner surrounded by a rabble will men see Him, but as heaven's King. Christ will come in His own glory, in the glory of His Father, and in the glory of the holy angels. Ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels, the beautiful, triumphant sons of God, possessing surpassing loveliness and glory, will escort Him on His way. In the place of a crown of thorns, He will wear a crown of glory—a crown within a crown. In the place of that old purple robe, He will be clothed in a garment of whitest white, “so as no fuller on earth can white” (Mark 9:3) it. And on His vesture and on His thigh a name will be written, “King of kings, and Lord of lords”.... AG 358.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW), 1127

Contrast this with the riches of glory, the wealth of praise pouring forth from immortal tongues, the millions of rich voices in the universe of God in anthems of adoration. But He humbled Himself, and took mortality upon Him. As a member of the human family, He was mortal; but as a God, He was the fountain of life to the world. He could, in His divine person, ever have withstood the advances of death, and refused to come under its dominion; but He voluntarily laid down His life, that in so doing He might give life and bring immortality to light. He bore the sins of the world, and endured the penalty, which rolled like a mountain upon His divine soul. He yielded up His life a sacrifice, that man should not eternally die. He died, not through being compelled to die, but by His own free will. This was humility. The whole treasure of heaven was poured out in one gift to save fallen man. He brought into His human nature all the life-giving energies that human beings will need and must receive. 5BC 1127.1

Wondrous combination of man and God! He might have helped His human nature to withstand the inroads of disease by pouring from His divine nature vitality and undecaying vigor to the human. But He humbled Himself to man's nature. He did this that the Scripture might be fulfilled; and the plan was entered into by the Son of God, knowing all the steps in His humiliation, that He must descend to make an expiation for the sins of a condemned, groaning world. What humility was this! It amazed angels. The tongue can never describe it; the imagination cannot take it in. The eternal Word consented to be made flesh! God became man! It was a wonderful humility. 5BC 1127.2

But He stepped still lower; the man must humble Himself as a man to bear insult, reproach, shameful accusations, and abuse. There seemed to be no safe place for Him in His own territory. He had to flee from place to place for His life. He was betrayed by one of His disciples; He was denied by one of His most zealous followers. He was mocked. He was crowned with a crown of thorns. He was scourged. He was forced to bear the burden of the cross. He was not insensible to this contempt and ignominy. He submitted, but, oh! He felt the bitterness as no other being could feel it. He was pure, holy, and undefiled, yet arraigned as a criminal! The adorable Redeemer stepped down from the highest exaltation. Step by step He humbled Himself to die—but what a death! It was the most shameful, the most cruel the death upon the cross as a malefactor. He did not die as a hero in the eyes of the world, loaded with honors, as men in battle. He died as a condemned criminal, suspended between the heavens and the earth—died a lingering death of shame, exposed to the tauntings and revilings of a debased, crime-loaded, profligate multitude! “All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head.” Psalm 22:7. He was numbered with the transgressors, He expired amid derision, and His kinsmen according to the flesh disowned Him. His mother beheld His humiliation, and He was forced to see the sword pierce her heart. He endured the cross, despised the shame. He made it of small account in consideration of the results that He was working out in behalf of, not only the inhabitants of this speck of a world, but the whole universe, every world which God had created. 5BC 1127.3

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