This is what the LORD says to Cyrus His anointed, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him, to disarm kings, to open the doors before him, so that the gates will not be shut:
I. THE REASON OF THE DIVINE FAVOR TO CYRUS. Cyrus is the only king out of Israel who bears the title of Jehovah's anointed. He is solemnly set apart as an instrument to perform an important public service in the cause of Jehovah. It does not necessarily imply the piety of Cyrus. For the purposes of Jehovah he is upheld, "grasped by the right hand," that he may subdue nations before him - from the Euxine to Egypt, from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. The girdles of mighty kings will be unloosed before him. See this said of Belshazzar (Daniel 5:6); then were the "two-leaved gates" of Babylon left open, amidst the revelry, and the conqueror broke in unopposed (Herod., 1:191). The treasures of the city are laid open before him.
1. The object was that he might acknowledge Jehovah. "He hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth" (Ezra 1:2). "Son of Cambyses, Heaven favours you manifestly, or you could not thus have risen superior to fortune" (Herod., 1:124; cf. 205). None but the Omniscient could have known the person and the name of him who was to conquer Babylon and deliver his people
2. The next object was the deliverance of the chosen people. "The fates of the empires and kingdoms of the world are divinely disposed of with a view to the Church." But all the progress and prosperity of true religion are summed up in the knowledge of Jehovah: that he is the sole God; that he is the Creator and the providential Ruler of the world. The alternation of day and night is Jehovah's ordinance. So also is that of peace and war, success and misfortune, good and evil. This is pure monotheism, opposed alike to pantheism and to dualism. That the world may be converted to true religion is the final and all-comprehensive object.
II. SONG OF PRAISE. "The appearance of the shepherd of Jehovah, and the thought of the blessings of which he is to be the medium, inspires the prophet with a joyous strain of psalmody." The form of the expression is borrowed from the Eastern religions, the fertility of the earth being due to the impregnating influence of Heaven (Psalm 85:11; Hosea 2:21, 22). Righteousness, in the sense of salvation (Isaiah 51:5, 6, 8; Isaiah 56:1; Isaiah 59:17; Isaiah 61:10, 11; Isaiah 62:1), descends upon the souls of men. And they will break forth into "fruits of righteousness" to the glory of God. Prepared for repentance and the reception of the truth from the Holy Spirit, they will be, even as the earth is, made mellow and adapted for the reception of seed by rain and dew. "A Church smiles under the influence of a revival of religion, and society puts on the aspect of loveliness like the earth after abundant showers.' - J.
Cyclopaedia is, of course, romance; but the very fact that, like our own king Arthur, Cyrus was used as a mirror to flash great ideals down the ages, proves that there was with him native brilliance and width of surface as well as fortunate eminence of position. He owed much to the virtue of his race.
Thus saith the Lord to His anointed.Kupos (Epit. Phot. 80; Plut. Artax. 1). In Zend, however, the sun is hware, which could not take the form Kupos in Old Persian, though in modern Persian it is khur, khir, and kher The classical writers have given extraordinary accounts of his birth and rise to power All these versions have been shown to be unhistorical by contemporaneous cuneiform inscriptions. The most important of these are(1) a cylinder inscription of Nabonidus, the last king of the Babylonian Empire, from Abu Habba (Sippara);(2) an annalistic tablet written shortly after the conquest of Babylonia by Cyrus;(3) a proclamation of Cyrus of the same date... The proclamation of Cyrus shows that he was not a Zoroastrian like Darius and Xerxes, but that as he claimed to be the successor of the Babylonian kings, so also he acknowledged the supremacy of Bel-Merodaeh the supreme Babylonian god. Hence the restoration of the Jewish exiles was not due to any sympathy with monotheism, but was part of a general policy. Experience had taught him the danger of allowing a disaffected population to exist in a country which might be invaded by an enemy; his own conquest of Babylonia had been assisted by the revolt of a part of its population; and he therefore reversed the policy of deportation and denationalisation which had been attempted by the Assyrian and Baby-Ionian kings. The exiles and the images of their gods were sent back to their old homes; only in the case of the Jews, who had no images, it was the sacred vessels of the temple which were restored.
(Prof. A. H. Sayce, LL. D.)
(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)
(R. Macculloch.)1. For the enlargement of His Church, God often selects special instruments. In setting into motion a whole system of agencies this is almost uniformly the case. We recognise the fact all along the history of the Church. We see men raised up with peculiar gifts and clothed with peculiar powers to effect certain great works. The text gives us a remarkable illustration of this method of Divine procedure. In the bosom of the Church itself there are two still more remarkable examples of this law; the two men who bore the largest part in the inauguration and establishment of the chief dispensations. Moses and Paul were not indifferent characters; nor were their training and position like that of the multitude. They stand out boldly in history as men of peculiar natural gifts and attainments. Their early discipline exalted their intrinsic power; while their relation to the people among whom their work was to be performed, and to the science of the age in which they lived, imparted special qualifications for their great mission, it is not that the human is thus exalted above the Divine, but simply that the Divine uses that kind and measure of humanity which are best fitted to accomplish its purposes.
2. It is just as certain that the great Sovereign chooses particular nations to effect certain parts of His work in the final triumph of the Gospel, as that He chooses certain individuals for some special operation "This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth My praise." His sovereignty reaches back of the immediate work. It chooses according to the character of the nation; it reaches to the antecedent training and the natural characteristics which combine to prepare the nation most fully for the work; nay, this sovereignty in its far-reaching wisdom has been busy all along the history of the people in so ordering the moulding influences under which characters and position are attained, that when the time comes for them to enter into His special work, they will be found all ripe for His purpose. This nation, to whom the passage before us refers, is a marked illustration of this thought. The Jew was designed to be the conservator of the Word of God. He was chosen for this purpose. The object was not propagation, but conservation. The race by nature and education had just those qualities which fitted it for this work. Its wonderful tenacity of impression, its power to hold what once had fairly been forced into it by Divine energy, like the rock hardened around the crystal, belongs to its nature, reveals itself after Providence had shattered the nation, in that granite character which, under the fire of eighteen centuries, remains unchanged. At every step of the progress of Christianity since, illustrations multiply of the truth that God forms nations to His work, and chooses them because of their fitness to accomplish certain parts of that work. The Greek with his high mental culture and his glorious language — fit instrument through which the Divine Word breathed His life-giving truth; the Roman sceptred in power over the whole realm of civilisation, and undesignedly constructing the great highway for the Church of Jesus; the German, with his innate freedom of spirit, nourishing the thoughtful souls whose lofty utterances awoke, whose wondrous power disenthralled a sleeping and captive Church.
(S. W. Fisher, D. D.)
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