Some mistranslations are innocent -- and others appear self-serving.
Nowhere in Y'shayahu / Isaiah 53 is there a mention of sin -- yet various Christian translations use that word, perhaps because so many want to believe that Jesus was without sin, and yet a sin sacrifice and use this famous passage to support that belief.
They are being lied to, plain and simple.
Consider Y'shayahu / Isaiah 53:5 in the following Christian translations:
"He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed." NET Bible.
"But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed." Douay-Rheims Bible.
"He was wounded for our rebellious acts. He was crushed for our sins. He was punished so that we could have peace, and we received healing from his wounds." G-d's Word Translation.
Yet the word for "sin" does not appear in this verse.
The Hebrew is מֵעֲוֹנֹתֵ֑ינוּ (for our impulsive, lustful wrongdoings). Most Christian translations choose the word "iniquity" here, and that is more honest than the translations above. An avon / עוון / transgression is when a person does whatever he wants, but not to anger G‑d. The sinner is intent on enjoying forbidden things he desires -- he knows it is wrong but does it any way. . . Thus an avon is worse than "sin."
The Hebrew word translated as “sin” is חֵטְא / cheit -- a mistake (a missing of the mark). You tried to do the right thing (it wasn't willful or knowingly doing something wrong). "Sin” is a חֵטְא / cheit -- an unintentional sin through carelessness — a “missing of the mark."
Making mistakes (trying to do the right thing and missing aka sin) is all about learning from your mistakes and making up for them via apology, repayment, etc. G-d tells Cain way back in B'reshit / Genesis 4 that he can over come sin (this is "after" Adam and Chava (Eve) sinned, so OOPS there goes the idea of "original sin").
An avon / עוון is not a mistake (it is more serious than sin) -- it is a knowing violation of the rule of law -- the commission of a crime from an impulsive (think lustful) action.
Translating avon / עוון as "sin" is not only incorrect -- it has to be intentional as the words are not at all similar.
Note, too, that most Christian translations of verse five say: "he was pierced for our transgressions" NIV.
The Hebrew word translated as "pierced" is מְחֹלָ֣ל. It is conjugated in a singular 3rd-person masculine passive verb form commonly translated as "he was wounded". A similar term, - m'holelet, conjugated in a singular 3rd-person feminine active verb form is found in Isaiah 51:9. It is commonly translated as "[she] wounded." Pierced is a stretch -- but the general meaning has to do with being wounded by a sword, so pierced is a possible, but not a preferred, translation.
Far more misleading is "he was crushed for our iniquities" NIV.
The verse does not say, “He was wounded for our transgressions and iniquities -- which might lead a reader to "he died FOR my sins." The proper translation is “He was wounded because of our transgressions, and crushed because of our iniquities.” The servant is suffering because of the evil done by others, not "for" them as an act of vicarious atonement. Hebrew uses prepositional prefix-letters ב (b), כ (k), ל (l) and מ (m) to convey prepositions. In this passage the preposition is a מ (mem) in the word מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ mip'sha'énu. It is never translated as “for” which would incorrectly indicate a vicarious atonement.
There are additional places in Y'shayahu / Isaiah 53 where many Christian translations use the word "sin" although it does not appear in the text.
"All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left G-d's paths to follow our own. Yet the L-RD laid on him the sins of us all." New Living Translation, Isaiah 53:6.
Again, the word in verse 6 is עֲוֹ֥ן / avon (iniquity / impulsive wrongdoing) -- not חֵטְא / cheit (sin). The sentence itself (that G-d laid on him the sins of us all) infers vicarious atonement (e.g., Jesus dying for your sins) -- and it is yet another mistranslation. The verse actually says "We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the L-rd accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us."
The fact that prayers can atone for iniquity does not "fit" the Christian concept that Jesus has to die for your sins, ergo the passage is mistranslated.
Want proof? The verb לִפְגֹּֽעַ literally means “to encounter” or “to come across by chance”, but it can also mean “to beg”, “to plead [with]”or “to pray [to]”. It takes an indirect object governed by the preposition ב־ (compare the usage in B'réshıt / Genesis 28:11 and Y'rmyahu / Jeremiah 7:16). The word בּוֹ literally means “in him”, “with him”, “through him” (or, in the context of Y'shayahu / Isaiah 53, “in them”, “with them”, “through them”) etc, and the meaning of וַיְיָ הִפְגִּֽיעַ בּוֹ אֵת עֲוֺן כֻּלָּֽנוּ in verse 6 is “We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the L-rd accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us." See also Rashi's commentary.
Some Christian translations use the word "sin" in association with sacrifices in Y'shayahu / Isaiah 53:10.
This is perhaps the worst of the misuse of the term "sin" in all of Isaiah 53 as the word "sin" does not appear, let alone a sin sacrifice. Yet the NIV has: "the L-RD makes his life an offering for sin." and the KJV has "thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin."
This is translated to say that the servant is a SACRIFICE -- an offering for sin. This is totally unbiblical and a terrible distortion. Yet again the word for sin does not appear in the text at all.
The word mistranslated as "sin offering" is אָשָׁם֙ / asham. An אָשָׁם֙ / asham is not a "sin offering." The various sacrifices are discussed in the book of Vaykira / Leviticus. A sin sacrifice is the חַטָּאת / chatat was for a missing of the mark (you tried to do good but missed). It is discussed in Vayikra / Leviticus 4.
Y'shayahu / Isaiah 53:10 does not speak of the sin sacrifice at all. The word which is used is אָשָׁם / asham.
The word אָשָׁם / asham can be translated as "guilt" (as in you are guilty of something) or to speak of the guilt sacrifice. It is quite clear from the context of that the use of in this verse means "guilt" and not "guilt sacrifice."
How can we be so certain that Isaiah is not speaking of the guilt sacrifice? Because there are only a few violations that one could bring a guilt sacrifice to atone. None of them "fit" the suffering servant. An avon/ עוון (unless it falls under the אָשָׁם תָּלוּי / asham talui or or אָשָׁם גְּזֵל֣וֹת / asham g'zelot) cannot be rectified with a qorban (sacrifice). So what are these two sacrifices which can be brought for an avon/ עוון? They are discussed in Vayikra / Leviticus chapter 5.
Those were the only two types of Avon / עוון (translated by Christians as iniquity) which a person could bring a sacrifice for (an asham / guilt sacrifice). Any other type of Avon / עוון must be atoned for with other actions including charity, prayer, repentance.
Knowing this take a look at the use of the word אָשָׁם / asham in Y'shayahu / Isaiah 53:10. "G-d desired to oppress him and He afflicted him. If his soul would acknowledge guilt, he would see offspring and live long days, and G-d’s purpose would succeed in his hand."
One may now understand why Christian translations have either "offering for sin" or "guilt sacrifice" instead of the proper translation that the servant must admit his own guilt to have the reward of having children and living a long life.
Jesus did not admit guilt.
Jesus did not have children.
Jesus did not live a long life.
Read about the אָשָׁם / asham for yourself. Check the passage and see that the word used is in fact אָשָׁם / asham and not "sin." Look up the אָשָׁם / asham sacrifices for yourself and see if any of them fit the concept most Christians have about "sin" or Jesus atoning for sin. . .
In other words, folks, use this blog as a starting point. Do your own research.
If so many errors, so many seemingly on purpose and self-serving to make this passage seem to "fit" Jesus, in Isaiah 53 are apparent, how many more passages are being used to mislead innocent Christians seeking G-d into a form of idolatry worshiping a man as G-d?
Sophiee Saguy has been countering false missionary claims about Judaism and the T'nach (Jewish bible) for nearly twenty years. You may find her on FaceBook and at the Messiah Truth forum.