Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
SUBJECT OF THE
These seven verses should have been appended to previous chapter, and
the new chapter should begin with
"Drop down," &c. [HORSLEY]. Reference to the
deliverance by Messiah often breaks out from amidst the local and
temporary details of the deliverance from Babylon, as the great
ultimate end of the prophecy.
1. his anointed--Cyrus is so called as being set apart as king, by God's providence, to fulfil His special purpose. Though kings were
not anointed in Persia, the expression is applied to him in
reference to the Jewish custom of setting apart kings to the regal
office by anointing.
right hand . . . holden--image from sustaining a feeble person by
holding his right hand
subdue nations--namely, the Cilicians, Syrians, Babylonians, Lydians,
Bactrians, &c.; his empire extended from Egypt and the Mediterranean to
the Indian Ocean, and from Ethiopia to the Euxine Sea.
loose . . . girdle loins--that is, the girdle off the loins; and so
enfeeble them. The loose outer robe of the Orientals, when girt fast
round the loins, was the emblem of strength and preparedness for action;
ungirt, was indicative of feebleness
(Job 38:3; 12:21);
"weakeneth the strength of the mighty" (Margin),
"looseth the girdle of the strong." The joints of
(Belshazzar's) loins, we read in
were loosed during the siege by Cyrus, at the sight of the
mysterious handwriting on the palace walls. His being taken by
surprise, unaccoutred, is here foretold.
to open . . . gates--In the revelry in Babylon on the night of its
capture, the inner gates, leading from the streets to the river, were
left open; for there were walls along each side of the Euphrates with
gates, which, had they been kept shut, would have hemmed the invading
hosts in the bed of the river, where the Babylonians could have easily
destroyed them. Also, the gates of the palace were left open, so that
there was access to every part of the city; and such was its extent,
that they who lived in the extremities were taken prisoners before the
alarm reached the center of the palace.
2. crooked . . . straight--
rather, "maketh mountains plain" [LOWTH], that is,
clear out of thy way all opposing persons and things. The Keri
reads as in
"make straight" (Margin).
gates of brass--
HERODOTUS (1.179) says, Babylon had a hundred
massive gates, twenty-five on each of the four sides of the city, all,
as well as their posts, of brass.
bars of iron--with which the gates were fastened.
3. treasures of darkness--that is, hidden in subterranean places; a
common Oriental practice. Sorcerers pretended to be able to show where
such treasures were to be found; in opposition to their pretensions, God
says, He will really give hidden treasures to Cyrus
(Jer 50:37; 51:13).
PLINY (Natural History,, 33:3) says that
Cyrus obtained from the conquest of Asia thirty-four thousand pounds
weight of gold, besides golden vases, and five hundred thousand talents
of silver, and the goblet of Semiramis, weighing fifteen talents.
that thou mayest know--namely, not merely that He was "the God of
Israel," but that He was Jehovah, the true God.
Ezr 1:1, 2
shows that the correspondence of the event with the prediction had the
desired effect on Cyrus.
which call . . . thy name--so long before designate thee by name
4. (See on
surnamed--that is, designated to carry out My design of restoring Judah
MAURER here, as in
translates, "I have addressed thee by an honorable name."
hast not known me--previous to My calling thee to this office;
after God's call, Cyrus did know Him in some degree
(Isa 42:8; 43:3, 11; 44:8; 46:9).
girded thee--whereas "I will loose (the girdle off) the loins of kings"
strengthening thee, but enfeebling them before thee.
though . . . not known me--
God knows His elect before they are made to know Him
6. From the rising to the setting of the sun, that is, from east to west, the whole habitable world. It is not said, "from
north to south," for that would not imply the habitable world, as, "from east to west" does
&c.). The conquest of Jerusalem by Babylon, the capital of the world,
and the overthrow of Babylon and restoration of the Jews by Cyrus, who
expressly acknowledged himself to be but the instrument in God's hands,
were admirably suited to secure, throughout the world, the
acknowledgment of Jehovah as the only true God.
7. form . . . create--yatzar, to give "form" to previously
existing matter. Bara, to "create" from nothing the chaotic dark
light . . . darkness--literally
emblematical also, prosperity to Cyrus, calamity to
Babylon and the nations to be vanquished [GROTIUS]
. . . Isaiah refers also to the Oriental belief in two
coexistent, eternal principles, ever struggling with each other, light
or good, and darkness or evil, Oromasden and Ahrimanen.
God, here, in opposition, asserts His sovereignty over both [VITRINGA].
create evil--not moral evil
but in contrast to "peace" in the parallel clause, war, disaster
8. Drop--namely, the fertilizing rain
skies--clouds; lower than the "heavens."
righteousness--that is, the dews of the Holy Spirit, whereby
"righteousness" shall "spring up." (See latter end of the verse).
earth--figuratively for the hearts of men on it, opened for
receiving the truth by the Holy Ghost
them--the earth and the heavens.
HORSLEY prefers: "Let the earth
open, and let salvation and justice grow forth; let
it bring them forth together; I the Lord have created him"
MAURER translates, "Let all kinds of salvation
(prosperity) be fruitful"
(Ps 72:3, 6, 7).
The revival of religion after the return from Babylon suggests to the
prophet the diffusion of Messiah's Gospel, especially in days
still future; hence the elevation of the language to a pitch above what
is applicable to the state of religion after the return.
9. Anticipating the objections which the Jews might raise as to why
God permitted their captivity, and when He did restore them, why He did
so by a foreign prince, Cyrus, not a Jew
&c.), but mainly and ultimately, the objections about to be raised by
the Jews against God's sovereign act in adopting the whole Gentile
world as His spiritual Israel
referring to this catholic diffusion of the Gospel), as if it
were an infringement of their nation's privileges; so Paul expressly
(Ro 9:4-8, 11-21).
Let . . . strive--Not in the Hebrew; rather, in apposition with
"him," "A potsherd among the potsherds of the earth!" A creature
fragile and worthless as the fragment of an earthen vessel, among others
equally so, and yet presuming to strive with his Maker! English Version implies, it is appropriate for man to strive with man, in opposition to
thy . . . He--shall thy work say of thee, He . . . ?
10. If it be wrong for a child, born in less favorable circumstances,
to upbraid his parents with having given him birth, a fortiori, it
is, to upbraid God for His dealings with us. Rather translate, "a father . . . a woman." The Jews considered themselves exclusively
God's children and were angry that God should adopt the Gentiles
besides. Woe to him who says to one already a father, Why dost thou
beget other children? [HORSLEY].
11. Ask . . . command--Instead of striving with Me in regard to My
purposes, your wisdom is in prayer to ask, and even command Me,
in so far as it is for My glory, and for your real good
Joh 16:23, 13,
latter part of the verse;
work of my hands--spiritually
also literal Israel
MAURER translates, instead of "command," Leave
it to Me, in My dealings concerning My sons and concerning the work
of My hands, to do what I will with My own. LOWTH
reads it interrogatively, Do ye presume to question Me and dictate to
Isa 45:9, 10)?
The same sense is given, if the words be taken in irony. But English
Version is best.
12. The same argument for prayer, drawn from God's omnipotence and
consequent power, to grant any request, occurs in
I, even my hands--so Hebrew
"Thou . . . thy hand" (both nominatives, in apposition).
13. him--Cyrus, type of Messiah, who redeems the captives of Satan
"without money and without price"
(Isa 52:3; 61:1;
in righteousness--to fulfil My righteous purpose
14. The language but cursorily alludes to Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba,
being given to Cyrus as a ransom in lieu of Israel whom he restored
but mainly and fully describes the gathering in of the Gentiles to
(Ac 2:10, 11; 8:27-38),
especially at Israel's future restoration
14:1, 2; 19:18-22; 60:3-14; 49:23;
Ps 68:31; 72:10, 11).
labour--wealth acquired by labor
Sabeans . . . of stature--the men of Meroe, in Upper Egypt.
(3.30) calls the Ethiopians "the tallest of men"
thee--Jerusalem ("my city,"
"The saints shall judge the world"
and "rule the nations with a rod of iron"
Re 2:26, 27).
The "chains," in the case of the obedient, shall be the easy
yoke of Messiah; as "the sword of the Spirit" also is saving to the
believer, condemnatory to the unbeliever
God is in thee--
15. God that hidest thyself--HORSLEY, after
JEROME, explains this as
the confession of Egypt, &c., that
God is concealed in human form in the person of Jesus. Rather,
Isa 45:9, 10,
the prophet, contemplating the wonderful issue of the seemingly dark
counsels of God, implies a censure on those who presume to question
(Isa 55:8, 9;
Faith still discerns, even under the veil, the covenant-keeping "God of
Israel, the Saviour"
16. ashamed--"disappointed" in their expectation of help from their
idols (see on
Psalm 97. 7).
17. in the Lord--
(Isa 45:24, 25),
contrasted with the idols which cannot give even temporary help
in Jehovah there is everlasting salvation
not . . . ashamed--opposed to the doom of the idolaters, who, in the
hour of need, shall be "ashamed"
18. (See on
not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited--Therefore, Judah, lying
waste during the Babylonish captivity, shall be peopled again by the
exiles. The Jews, from this passage, infer that, after the resurrection,
the earth shall be inhabited, for there can be no reason why the earth
should then exist in vain any more than now
19. not . . . secret--not like the heathen oracles which gave their
responses from dark caverns, with studied obscurity
Christ plainly quotes these words, thereby identifying Himself with
I said not . . . Seek . . . in vain--When I commanded you to seek Me
(Jehovah did so,
"Ask Me," &c.), it was not in order that ye might be sent empty away
Especially in Israel's time of trial, God's interposition, in behalf of
Zion hereafter, is expressly stated as about to be the answer to prayer
(Isa 62:6, 7-10;
Ps 102:13-17, 19-21).
So in the case of all believers, the spiritual Israel.
righteousness--that which is veracious: not in the equivocal terms
of heathen responses, fitly symbolized by the "dark places" from
which they were uttered.
right--true (see on
20. escaped of the nations--those of the nations who shall have
escaped the slaughter inflicted by Cyrus. Now, at last, ye shall see the
folly of "praying to a god that cannot save"
Ultimately, those that shall be "left of all the nations which shall
come against Jerusalem" are meant
They shall then all be converted to the Lord
(Isa 66:23, 24;
21. Challenge the worshippers of idols
take counsel together--as to the best arguments wherewith to defend
the cause of idolatry.
who . . . from that time--
(Isa 41:22, 23;
Which of the idols has done what God hath, namely, foretold, primarily
as to Cyrus; ultimately as to the final restoration of Israel
hereafter? The idolatry of Israel before Cyrus' time will have its
counterpart in the Antichrist and the apostasy, which shall precede
just . . . and . . . Saviour--righteous in keeping His promises,
and therefore a Saviour to His people. Not only is it not inconsistent
with, but it is the result of, His righteousness, or justice, that
He should save His redeemed
(Isa 42:6, 21;
Ps 85:10, 11;
22. Look . . . and be ye saved--The second imperative expresses the
result which will follow obedience to the first
ye shall be saved
(Joh 3:14, 15).
"If a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of
brass he lived." What so simple as a look? Not do something, but
look to the Saviour
(Ac 16:30, 31).
Believers look by faith, the eye of the soul. The look is that of one
turning (see Margin) to God, as at once "Just and the
that is, the look of conversion
23. sworn by myself--equivalent to, "As I live," as
quotes it. So
God could swear by no greater, therefore He swears by Himself
(Heb 6:13, 16).
word . . . in righteousness--rather, "the truth
is gone forth from My mouth, the word (of promise), and it shall not
return (that is, which shall not be revoked)" [LOWTH]. But the accents favor English Version.
tongue . . . swear--namely, an oath of allegiance to
God as their true King (see on
Yet to be fulfilled
24. Rather, "Only in Jehovah shall men say of me
(this clause is parenthetical), is there righteousness"
(which includes salvation,
"a just God and a Saviour,"
strength--namely, to save.
shall men come--Those who have set themselves up against God shall
come to Him in penitence for the past
Isa 54:17; 41:11).
25. all . . . Israel--the spiritual Israel
and the literal Israel, that is, the final remnant which shall all
justified--treated as if they were just, through Christ's
righteousness and death
glory--literally, "sing" in His praise