Q: What is the full text of Isa 53 for the Massoretic text, Great Isaiah Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Septuagint?

A: First of all, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary volume 6 p.300-301 quoting from an author named North says, "No passage in the Old Testament, certainly none of comparable importance, present more problems than this…." Anyway, here is the full text. Differences in Hebrew from the Great Isaiah Scroll among the Dead Sea scrolls are in Bold. Some conclusions are at the end.

Massoretic text of Isaiah 53.

The parentheses are where one Hebrew word can have different English translations. In particular, The Interlinear Bible mentions that one Hebrew word can mean, "and, but, then, or." Words in italics are added, but were not in the Hebrew. Also, remember the Massoretic text is not one manuscript, but a family of very similar manuscripts. This expanded translation is adapted from both the Massoretic text translation taken from The Interlinear Bible by Jay P. Green Sr. and Messianic Prophecies from a Dead Sea Scroll.

(1) Who (has / would have) believed our report? And the arm of (YHWH / the LORD) to/upon whom is revealed?

(2) For He (shot / comes) up (before / right forth) Him as a (sapling / tender plant), and as a root out of dry (spelling difference) ground. He (has / had) no form nor (majesty / comeliness) (no to him) that we should see Him, nor (form / beauty) that we should (desire / delight in) him.

(3) Despised and (abandoned / forsaken) of (man / men), (no and) a man of pains and (acquainted / having known) (of sicknesses / with disease). And (a hiding of faces from Him / one from whom men hide their face) (possible spelling difference), he (was / being) despised and we (not valuing him / esteemed him not).

(4) Surely He (has borne / did bear) our (sicknesses / diseases) (2 word spelling difference) and our pains (; He bore them, / he carried;) yet / whereas we (regarded / did esteem) Him (as plagued / stricken), (no and) (stricken / smitten) by God and (afflicted / tormented).

(5) (But / And) he was (pierced / wounded) (for / because of) our transgression (singular), (no and) crushed (because of / for) our iniquities; (no and) the chastisement of our (peace / welfare) was (on / upon) Him; and with His (wound / stripe) (singular) (we ourselves / we) (are / were) healed.

(6) All we like sheep (did go / go) astray; we (turned / have turned) (each man / every one) to (his / his own) way: and (YHWH / the LORD) has (made meet in / inflicted on) Him the iniquity of all of us.

(7) He was oppressed (probable spelling difference – 1 letter), (and He was afflicted / though he humbled himself), (but / and) He did not open His mouth. He was led as a lamb (to / that is led to) the slaughter; and as an (ewe / female sheep) before her shearers is (silent / dumb / mute), so he will not open his mouth (probable spelling difference).

(8) (By / from) (oppression / prison) and from (justice / judgment / sentencing); he was (taken / taken away) and with his generation who (probable spelling difference) shall (consider / reason)? For (probable spelling difference) He was cut off out of the land of the living: (from / for) the transgression of my people, (the stroke was to him / to him the stroke was due).

(9) And he (made / put / gave) his grave with the wicked; and with the rich (in his death / his tomb) (probable spelling difference); although He had done no violence, (and deceit was not / neither was any deceit) in his mouth (probable spelling difference)

(10) (But / Yet) it pleased (YHWH / the LORD) pleased to crush Him (, to make Him sick, so that if He should put His soul as a guilt offering, / by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, that) he (might / shall) see seed/descendants, prolong (different Hebrew words, same in English) his days, and (that the purpose / the will) of (YHWH / the LORD) (might / shall) prosper (by / in) his hand.

(11) (Of / from) the travail of his soul (different genitive conjugation); he shall see (no "light") and be fully satisfied (no extra prefix letter). And (by / through) (no extra prefix letter) his knowledge, my righteous servant justify (to the / for) many, (and / for) he (probable spelling difference) will (endure / bear) their iniquities.

(12) (Therefore / Because of this) I will (distribute / apportion / divide) (to him / him) (with / a portion among) the (great / mighty ones), and with the (strong / mighty) He shall ( distribute / apportion / divide) the (spoil / rewards); (because / in whose place) He (poured out / bared) His (soul / life) (to / unto) death; and He was (counted / numbered) (with / with the) transgressors; (and / yet) he bore the sin (singular) of many; (no their) transgressors for made intercession.

Great Isaiah Scroll of Isaiah 53

There is some variation in how people translate into English. The differences in Hebrew words is in bold, though in some cases the differences work out to the same English word. Bear in mind there were no vowel marks in the Dead Sea scrolls.

This translation is taken from Messianic Prophecies from a Dead Sea Scroll by Catherine Geever, Margaret Heinle, and Preston Heinle.

(1) Who (has / would have) believed our report? And the arm of (YHWH / the LORD) to whom is revealed?

(2) He came up like a shoot [suckling infant] before him and like a root from dry (spelling difference, inserted an "aleph") ground. There is no form to him and no majesty to him [which] we will notice and no appearance [which] we will (desire / delight in).

(3) Despised and (abandoned / forsaken) of (man / men), and a man of pains and familiar with (sicknesses / disease). And (a hiding of faces from Him / one from whom men hide their face) (possible spelling difference), we despised him and we (not valuing him / esteemed him not).

(4) Surely He (has borne / did bear) our (sicknesses / diseases) (2 word spelling difference) and our pains (; He bore them, / he carried;) yet / whereas we (regarded / did esteem) Him (as plagued / stricken), and (stricken / smitten) by God and (afflicted / tormented).

5) (But / And) he was pierced [to death] from our transgressions and crushed from our iniquities and the correction / punishment ) for our well-being is upon him and by his (wounds / stripes) we ourselves shall be healed.

(6) All we like sheep (did go / go) astray; we (turned / have turned) (each man / every one) to (his / his own) way: and (YHWH / the LORD) has (made meet in / inflicted on) Him the iniquity of all of us.

(7) He was oppressed (probable spelling difference), (and He was afflicted / though he humbled himself), (but / and) He did not open His mouth. He was led as a lamb (to / that is led to) the slaughter; (no and) as an (ewe / female sheep) before her shearers is (silent / dumb / mute), so he did not open his mouth (probable spelling difference).

(8) (By / from) (oppression / prison) and from (justice / judgment / sentencing); he was (taken / taken away) and with his generation who (probable spelling difference, added an "aleph") shall (consider / reason)? For (probable spelling difference, added an "aleph") He was cut off out of the land of the living: (from / for) the transgression of his people for whom he was stricken.

(9) And they (made / put / gave ) his grave with the wicked and a time [with] a rich [man] in his (in his death / his tomb) (probable spelling difference), though he did no violence and no deceit was in his mouth (probable spelling difference).

(10) But (YHWH / the LORD) wanted him crushed, and he pierced him (to death). If you will place his life (as) a guilt offering, he shall see seed/offspring, and he shall prolong (different Hebrew words, same in English) his days and the desire of (YHWH / the LORD) shall prosper in his hand.

(11) (Of / from) the travail of his soul (different genitive conjugation); he shall see the light and be fully satisfied (extra prefix letter). And (by / through) (extra prefix letter) his knowledge, his righteous servant justify (to the / for) many, (and / for) he (probable spelling difference) will (endure / bear) their iniquities.

(12) (Therefore / Because of this) I will (distribute / apportion / divide) (to him / him) (with / a portion among) the (great / mighty ones), and with the (strong / mighty) He shall ( distribute / apportion / divide) the (spoil / rewards); (because / in whose place) He (poured out / bared) His (soul / life) (to / unto) death; and He was (counted / numbered) (with / with the) transgressors; (and / yet) he bore the sins of many; their transgressions and for stricken.

Septuagint of Isaiah 53

This is taken from C.L. Brenton’s The Septuagint Version: Greek and English.

(1) Lord, who has believed our report"? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

(2) We brought a report as a child before him; as a root in a thirsty land: he has no form or comeliness; and we saw him, but he had no form nor beauty.

(3) But his form was ignoble, and inferior to that of the children of men; a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for his face is turned from us: he was dishonored, and not esteemed.

(4) He bears our sins, and is pained for us: yet we accounted him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction.

(5) But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; by his bruises we were healed.

(6) All we as sheep have gone astray; every one has gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave him up for our sins.

(7) And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter.

(8) In humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people he was led to death.

(9) And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practiced no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth.

(10) The Lord also is pleased to purge him from his stroke. If you (plural) can given an offering for sin, your soul shall see a long-lived seed

(11) The Lord also is pleased to take away the travail of his soul, to show him light, and to form him with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins."

(12) Therefore he shall inherit many, and he shall divide the spoils of the mighty; because his soul was delivered to death: and he was numbered among the transgressors; and he bored the sins of many, and was delivered because of their iniquities."

Conclusion: The Septuagint agrees less with either Hebrew alternative than the Massoretic text and Great Isaiah Scroll agree with each other. The two largest Hebrew differences are "by disease" vs. "pierced" in verse 10, and "see and be satisfied" vs. "see light and be satisfied" in verse 11. Other than these, there is less variation among the Hebrew texts, though 1,000 years apart in time, than there is in choices of English words for translation.