In Isaiah 53:12, who are the

In Isaiah 53:12, who are the “great” and the “strong”, and in what way does God “divide” to the Messiah a portion with them?

Is it not probable that we place overmuch emphasis on these three words, and that we seek to get more out of them than perhaps they are meant to convey? “Divide” seems to suggest to our minds a cutting up into so many definite shares, of which Christ gets His, and certain others get theirs. But what if we use the word “assign” as is done in Darby’s Translation, or render the clause, “I will allot to Him a portion among the mighty”, as Gesenius does in his Lexicon! Either of these is quite correct as a rendering, and at the same time does not tie up our thoughts to an actual division of something into two or more parts. This should make it clear to us that the meaning may be no more than as follows: “I will assign to Him such a spoil as is usually that obtained by the great and the strong; and I will do so in recompense for (“Therefore”) His having suffered in littleness and weakness (as pictured in v. 7, etc.), and for (“because”) His having poured out His soul unto death (middle of v. 12).
Viewed in this way, the words “great” and “strong”, which are both plurals, need not refer to any particular individuals, but to the great and strong in general. Compare how the same two words are coupled together in such passages as Isaiah 8:7; Joel 2:2 and Zecheriah 8:22; the word “many” in the first and last of these being the same Hebrew word as “great” in our verse.
The translators of the Septuagint, when turning the passage into Greek, rendered the second clause. “He shall divide the spoils OF the mighty”, and left out the “with” of the first clause also; thus suggesting the meaning to be a complete triumph over all His foes, however “many” or “mighty” they were. Various commentators agree with this view of the passage. But whether we take it thus, and think of the great and mighty ones as His enemies, amongst whom He stands out pre-eminent; the basic idea in the statement is much the same—that the One who stooped so low and who suffered so much, has been given a place and an honour beyond all others.

W.R.