מִן and Isaiah 53

A friend recently asked me about the translation of Isa 53:5, especially the “for” bits: “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities…” (ESV).

The Hebrew uses the preposition מִן about which the NET bible says: “The preposition…has a causal sense (translated “because of”) here and in the following clause.” (NET Bible Tn note 15).

I wasn’t familiar with such a use of min so I thought I’d read up about it.

Holladay (p200) has a causal definition under 4.a) of his entry:

designates a) cause… b) originator… c) subj. of active verb becomes obj. of min- w. passive vb.

Holladay offers Job 14:9 as an example of a causative use:

Job 14:9  at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth shoots like a new plant. (ESV)

מֵרֵ֣יחַ מַ֣יִם יַפְרִ֑חַ

Similarly: Waltke and O’Connor (IBHS p213 § 11.2.11d) say:

The cause or means of a situation is marked by mn…

Their examples are Eze 28:18, 2 Sam 3:37 and Gen 9:11.

The LXX translates the phrase αύτος δε ἐτραυματισθη δια τας ἀνομιας ἡμων (δια with an articular plural accusative noun (meaning “on account of”) followed by a genitive modifier).

Tentative conclusion: the preposition itself does not bring any substitutionary meaning to the phrase; rather it simply designates the cause of the Servant’s suffering. However, the emphatic pronoun at the beginning of the clause and the 1st person common plural pronominal suffix on the noun “transgressions” (מִפְּשָׁעֵ֔נוּ) do emphasise substitution.

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