Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
God is about to argue the case; therefore let the nations listen in
reverential silence. Compare
Ge 28:16, 17,
as to the spirit in which we ought to behave before God.
before me--rather (turning), "towards me"
islands--including all regions beyond sea
maritime regions, not merely isles in the strict sense.
renew . . . strength--Let them gather their strength for the argument;
let them adduce their strongest arguments (compare
"Judgment" means here, to decide the point at issue between us.
2. Who--else but God? The fact that God "raiseth up" Cyrus and
qualifies him for becoming the conqueror of the nations and deliverer of
God's people, is a strong argument why they should trust in Him. The
future is here prophetically represented as present or past.
the righteous man--Cyrus; as
Isa 44:28; 45:1-4, 13; 46:11,
"from the East," prove. Called "righteous," not so much on
account of his own equity [HERODOTUS, 3.89], as
because he fulfilled God's righteous will in restoring the Jews
from their unjust captivity. Raised him up in righteousness.
The Septuagint takes the Hebrew as a noun
"righteousness." MAURER translates, "Who raised up
him whom salvation (national and temporal, the gift of God's
'righteousness' to the good,
Isa 45:8; 51:5)
meets at his foot" (that is, wherever he goes). Cyrus is said to come
from the East, because Persia is east of Babylon; but in
from the north, in reference to Media. At the same time the full
sense of righteousness, or righteous, and of the whole
passage, is realized only in Messiah, Cyrus' antitype (Cyrus knew
He goes forth as the Universal Conqueror of the "nations," in
righteousness making war
(Ps 2:8, 9;
Re 19:11-15; 6:2; 2:26, 27).
"The idols He shall utterly abolish" (compare
with Isa 2:18).
Righteousness was always raised up from the East. Paradise was east of
Eden. The cherubim were at the east of the garden. Abraham was called
from the East. Judea, the birthplace of Messiah, was in the East.
called . . . to . . . foot--called him to
attend His (God's) steps, that is, follow His guidance. In
Cyrus acknowledges Jehovah as the Giver of his victories. He subdued
the nations from the Euxine to the Red Sea, and even Egypt (says
(Isa 17:13; 29:5;
Persia, Cyrus' country, was famed for the use of the "bow"
"Before him" means "gave them into his power"
MAURER translates, "Gave his (the enemy's) sword
to be dust, and his (the enemy's) bow to be as stubble"
(Job 41:26, 29).
3. Cyrus had not visited the regions of the Euphrates and westward
until he visited them for conquest. So the gospel conquests penetrated
regions where the name of God was unknown before.
4. Who--else but God?
calling . . . generations from . . . beginning--The origin and position
of all nations are from God
what is true of Cyrus and his conquests is true of all the movements of
history from the first; all are from God.
with the last--that is, the last
(Isa 44:6; 48:12).
5. feared--that they would be subdued.
drew near, and came--together, for mutual defense.
6. Be of good courage--Be not alarmed because of Cyrus, but make new
images to secure the favor of the gods against him.
7. One workman encourages the other to be quick in finishing the idol,
so as to avert the impending danger.
nails--to keep it steady in its place.
Wisdom 13:15, 16,
gives a similar picture of the folly of idolatry.
8. Contrast between the idolatrous nations whom God will destroy by
Cyrus, and Israel whom God will deliver by the same man for their
servant--so termed as being chosen by God to worship Him themselves,
and to lead other peoples to do the same
Jacob . . . chosen--
my friend--literally, "loving me."
9. Abraham, the father of the Jews, taken from the remote Ur of the
Chaldees. Others take it of Israel, called out of Egypt
from the chief men--literally, "the elbows"; so the joints; hence
the root which joins the tree to the earth; figuratively, those of
ancient and noble stock. But the parallel clause "ends of the earth"
favors GESENIUS, who translates,
"the extremities of the earth"; so
10. be not dismayed--literally, anxiously to look at one another in dismay.
right hand of my righteousness--that is, My right hand prepared in
accordance with My righteousness (faithfulness to My promises) to uphold
11. ashamed--put to the shame of defeat (compare
12. seek . . . and . . . not find--said of one so utterly put out of
the way that not a trace of him can be found
thing of naught--shall utterly perish.
(De 33:26, 29).
14. worm--in a state of contempt and affliction, whom all loathe and
tread on, the very expression which Messiah, on the cross, applies to
so completely are the Lord and His people identified and assimilated.
God's people are as 'worms' in humble thoughts of themselves, and in
their enemies' haughty thoughts of them; worms, but not vipers, or of
the serpent's seed." [HENRY].
men--The parallelism requires the word "men" here to have
associated with it the idea of fewness or feebleness.
LOWTH translates, "Ye mortals of Israel."
The Septuagint, "altogether diminutive."
MAURER supports English Version, which the
Hebrew text best accords with.
the Lord--in general.
and thy redeemer--in particular; a still stronger reason why He should
15. God will make Israel to destroy their enemies as the Eastern
(Isa 28:27, 28)
bruises out the grain with its teeth, and gives the chaff to the winds
teeth--serrated, so as to cut up the straw for fodder and separate
the grain from the chaff.
mountains . . . hills--kingdoms more or less powerful that were hostile
16. fan--winnowed (compare
whirlwind . . . scatter them--
(Job 27:21; 30:22).
17. poor and needy--primarily, the exiles in Babylon.
water--figuratively, refreshment, prosperity after their affliction.
The language is so constructed as only very partially to apply to the
local and temporary event of the restoration from Babylon; but fully to
be realized in the waters of life and of the Spirit, under the Gospel
(Isa 30:25; 44:3;
Joh 7:37-39; 4:14).
God wrought no miracles that we read of, in any wilderness, during the
return from Babylon.
faileth--rather, "is rigid" or parched
18. Alluding to the waters with which Israel was miraculously supplied
in the desert after having come out of Egypt.
high places--bare of trees, barren, and unwatered
(Jer 4:11; 14:6).
"High places . . . valleys" spiritually express that in
all circumstances, whether elevated or depressed,
God's people will have refreshment for their souls, however little to
be expected it might seem.
(Isa 32:15; 55:13).
shittah--rather, the "acacia," or Egyptian thorn, from which the gum
Arabic is obtained [LOWTH].
oil tree--the olive.
fir tree--rather, the "cypress": grateful by its shade.
pine--GESENIUS translates, "the holm."
box tree--not the shrub used for bordering flower beds, but
a kind of cedar, remarkable for the smallness of its cones, and the
upward direction of its branches.
20. consider--literally, "lay it (to heart)"; turn (their
attention) to it. "They" refers to all lands
Ps 64:9; 40:3).
The effect on the Gentiles of God's open interposition hereafter in
behalf of Israel shall be, they shall seek Israel's God
21. A new challenge to the idolaters (see
Isa 41:1, 7)
to say, can their idols predict future events as Jehovah can
your strong reasons--the reasons for idol-worship which you think
22. what shall happen--"Let them
bring near and declare future contingencies"
former things . . . the latter end of them--show what
former predictions the idols have given, that we may compare the event
("latter end") with them; or give new prophecies ("declare things to
[MAURER]. BARNES explains it
more reconditely, "Let them foretell the entire series of
events, showing, in their order, the things which shall
first occur, as well as those which shall finally
happen"; the false prophets tried to predict isolated events, having no
mutual dependency; not a long series of events mutually and
orderly connected, and stretching far into futurity. They did not even
try to do this. None but God can do it
(Isa 46:10; 44:7, 8).
"Or . . . things to come" will, in this view, mean, Let them,
if they cannot predict the series, even predict plainly any
23. do good . . . evil--give any proof at all of your power, either
to reward your friends or punish your enemies
that we may be dismayed, and behold it
"That we (Jehovah and the idols) may look one another in the face
(that is, encounter one another,
2Ki 14:8, 11),
and see" our respective powers by a trial. HORSLEY
translates, "Then the moment we behold, we shall be dismayed." "We"
thus, and in English Version, refers to Jehovah and His
24. of nothing--(See on
The Hebrew text is here corrupt; so English Version
abomination--abstract for concrete: not merely abominable, but the
essence of whatever is so
chooseth you--as an object of worship.
25. raised up--in purpose: not fulfilled till a hundred fifty years
"from the East"; both are true: see the note there.
call . . . my name--acknowledge Me as God, and attribute his success
to Me; this he did in the proclamation
This does not necessarily imply that Cyrus renounced idolatry, but
hearing of Isaiah's prophecy given a hundred fifty years before, so
fully realized in his own acts, he recognized God as the true God, but
retained his idol (so Naaman,
2Ki 17:33, 41;
Da 3:28; 4:1-3, 34-37).
princes--the Babylonian satraps or governors of provinces.
mortar--"mire"; He shall tread them under foot as dirt
26. Who--of the idolatrous soothsayers? When this prophecy shall be
fulfilled, all shall see that God foretold as to Cyrus, which none of
the soothsayers have.
beforetime--before the event occurred.
He is righteous--rather, "It is true"; it was a true prophecy, as the
event shows. "He is righteous," in English Version, must be
interpreted, The fulfilment of the idol's words proves that
he is faithful.
showeth, &c.--rather, "there was none (of the soothsayers) that
showed . . . declared--no one has heard your words"
foretelling the event.
27. Rather, "I first will give to Zion and to Jerusalem the
messenger of good tidings, Behold, behold them!" The clause, "Behold
. . . them" (the wished-for event is now present) is
inserted in the middle of the sentence as a detached exclamation, by an
elegant transposition, the language being framed abruptly, as one would
speak in putting vividly as it were, before the eyes of others, some
joyous event which he had just learned [LUDOVICUS
DE DIEU] (compare
None of the idols had foretold these events. Jehovah was the "first" to
do so (see
28. no counsellor--no one of the idolatrous soothsayers who could
those who consulted them what would take place. Compare
"counsel of His messenger"
when I asked--that is, challenged them, in this chapter.
29. confusion--"emptiness" [BARNES].