Isaiah 53:9 in the King James Bible reads, “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.”
I have received two takes on this that claim an inaccuracy or contradiction in the King James Bible.
Take #1: Jesus actually was with the WICKED in death and with the RICH in his grave. In other words, Isaiah got it BACKWARDS.
Take #2: The new translations are more accurate and their translation of Isaiah 53:9 is better than the King James Bible.
Take #1 To answer this first accusation, was must refer you to the King James reading above while remembering that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself.
In Romans 6:23, we are told that the wages of sin is DEATH. 2 Corinthians 5:21 then tells us that Jesus was “made to be sin for us.” In other words, Jesus never sinned but became sin on the Cross. In this way, He became our SUBSTITUTE and paid for the sin of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
Only the WICKED die. Jesus made his grave with the wicked because the sins of the wicked were placed on Him. And that is exactly what Isaiah said would happen.
Also, the text says that he “made his grave with the rich in his death.” This is absolutely true. He died as the wicked do and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea according to Mark 15:42-47, which describes the preparation and burial in terms that clearly indicate that Joseph of Arimathaea was a man of considerable wealth. He spent serious money on the preparation and owned a tomb originally intended to be used for his own body. ONLY “rich” Jews of the 1st century could pull this off.
There is nothing contradictory between Isaiah 53:9 and the Gospel accounts. However, there is another take on this…
Take #2 The other accusations regarding this text come largely due to the confusion created by the new versions and/or some self-appointed “scholar” who claims to have found that their translation of the Hebrew text proves that Isaiah was mistaken and that the King James translation is inaccurate.
The latter is answered as we deal with the former. None of these “private interpretations” really add anything to the discussion. They are virtually the same as the copyrighted new versions on the market. So, let’s deal with the new versions and, in so doing, we answer all of the skeptics who attack Isaiah using Take #2.
We will list some examples of new versions as they corrupt the word of God:
The New American Standard “His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death.”
This is just a bad translation. The Hebrew for “wicked” is (transliterated) RASHA. The Hebrew for “rich” is ASHIYR. The Hebrew for “man” is ADAM and it does not appear in any Hebrew text with RASHA or with ASHIYR. Why did the NASV translators ADD to God’s word?? This is a corruption of the text.
249 times the King James translates RASHA as “wicked” and only three times as “wicked man”, and that is only when the context demands it. Likewise, ASHIYR is translated “rich” 20 times and “rich man” three times, only because the context demanded it.
By adding the word “man” TWICE in their translation of the first half of Isaiah 53:9, the New American Standard casts confusion on the word of God. The New American Standard Version is a piece of useless trash.
The Message “They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man,”
“The Message” is a warped paraphrase. It doesn’t even qualify as a translation and it reads like it was translated by Charles Manson. But many people have bought this bad work because of the false advertising telling them that it simply puts the Bible in “the contemporary language” of the day. That’s a flat lie. It’s a perversion of God’s word.
There isn’t a Hebrew text in the world that says they “threw [Jesus] in a grave with a rich man.” That’s just ridiculous and it would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.
How To Avoid Error
As we have pointed out previously, the way to avoid error is to be born again by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ AND to get a King James Bible and handle the word of God carefully. Do this and you will never stumble over passages like this one in Isaiah.