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Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 45

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

These seven verses should have been appended to last chapter, and the new chapter should begin with Isa These seven verses should have been appended to last chapter, and the new chapter should begin with Isaiah 45:8, "Drop down," etc. (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.

Thus saith the Lord to his anointed. Cyrus is so called as being set apart as king, by God's providence, to fulfill 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.

Whose right hand I have holden - image from sustaining a feeble person by holding his right hand (Isaiah 42:6).

To subdue nations before him - namely, the Cilicians, Syrians, Babylonians, Lydians, Bactrians, etc.; his empire extended from Egypt and the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, and from Ethiopia to the Euxine Sea.

I will loose the loins of kings - i:e., 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; Job 12:21, "weakeneth the strength of the mighty:" margin, 'looseth the girdle of the strong'). The joints of Belshazzar's loins, we read in Daniel 5:6, 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 before him the two-leaved 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, because 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 (Herodotus, 1:, sec. 191).

Verse 2

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

I will ... make the crooked places straight - (Isaiah 40:4.) So the Qeri' reads [ 'ªyasheer (H3474)]: so Isaiah 45:13, margin. But the Kethibh ['owsheer, or 'ªwasheer], 'I will level the heights' - i:e., clear out of thy way all opposing persons and things.

I will break in pieces the gates of brass - (Psalms 107:16.) Herodotus, 1:, sec. 179, says, Babylon had 100 massive gates, 25 on each of the four sides of the city, all, as well as their posts, of brass.

And cut in sunder the bars of iron - with which the gates were fastened.

Verse 3

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

I will give thee the treasures of darkness - i:e., 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 (Jeremiah 50:37; Jeremiah 51:13). Pliny, 'Natural History,' 30: 3, says that Cyrus obtained from the conquest of Asia 34,000 pounds weight of gold, besides golden vases, and 500,000 talents of silver, and the goblet of Semiramis, weighing 15 talents.

That thou mayest know that I the Lord - namely, not merely that He was "the God of Israel," but that He was Yahweh, the true God. Ezra 1:1-2, shows that the correspondence of the event with the prediction had the desired effect on Cyrus.

Which call (thee) by thy name - who so long before designate thee by name (Isaiah 43:1).

(Am) the God of Israel.

Verse 4

For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

For Jacob, my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name - (note, Isaiah 41:8; Isaiah 43:14-15.)

I have surnamed thee - i:e., designated thee to carry out my design of restoring Judah (see note, Isaiah 44:5; Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1). Maurer here, as in Isaiah 44:5, translates, akanneka, 'I have addressed thee by an honourable name.'

Though thou hast not known me - previous to my calling thee to this office; after God's call Cyrus did know Him in some degree (Ezra 1:1-3).

Verse 5

I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: I (am) the Lord, and (there is) none else - (Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 43:11; Isaiah 44:8; Isaiah 46:9.)

I girded thee - whereas "I will loose (the girdle off) the loins of kings" (Isaiah 45:1), strengthening thee, but enfeebling them before thee.

Though thou hast not known me - (Isaiah 45:4.) God knows His elect before they are made to know Him (Galatians 4:9; John 15:16).

Verse 6

That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.

That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that (there is) none besides me - from the rising to the setting of the sun - i:e., 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 (Ezra 1:1-2). 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 Yahweh as the only true God.

Verse 7

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

I form the light, and create darkness - Yaatsar (H3335), to give "form" to previously existing matter. Bara, to "create" from nothing the chaotic dark material.

Light ... darkness - in the literal sense (Genesis 1:1-3); emblematical also of prosperity to Cyrus, calamity to Babylon and the nations to be vanquished (Grotius). Isaiah refers also to the Oriental belief in two co-existent 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).

I make peace and create evil - not moral evil (James 1:13), but in contrast to "peace" in the parallel clause, war, disaster (cf. Psalms 65:7; Amos 3:6).

Verse 8

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.

Drop down ye heavens - namely, the fertilizing rain (Psalms 65:12).

Let the skies - clouds. Lower than the "heavens."

Pour down righteousness - i:e., the dews of the Holy Spirit, whereby "righteousness" shall spring up.

Let the earth open - figuratively for the hearts of men on it, opened so as to receive the truth by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:14).

Let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.

"Them," the earth and the heavens. Horsley prefers, with Queen Elizabeth's Bible, 'let the earth open, and let salvation and justice grow forth (literally, fructify: yipruw (H6509)) let it bring them forth together; I the Lord have created him' (Isaiah 45:13) (Psalms 72:3; Psalms 72:6-7). 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.

Verse 9

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! - 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 (Isaiah 40:27, etc.), 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 (Isaiah 45:8, referring to this catholic diffusion of the Gospel), as if it were an infringement of their nation's privileges. So Paul expressly quotes it, Romans 9:4-8; Romans 9:11-21.

(Let) the potsherd (strive) with the potsherds of the earth. "Let ... strive' is not in the Hebrew. The words may be in apposition with "him." 'A potsherd among the potsherds of the earth.' So the Vulgate, Syriac, and apparently the Arabic. A creature fragile and worthless as the fragment of an earthen vessel, among others equally so, and yet presuming to strive with his Maker! (Gesenius.) But it favours the English version that the Hebrew 'eth (H853), being translated with in the first clause, should naturally be so in the second clause. Of course the English version does not enjoin strife with one's fellow-men (2 Timothy 2:24); but implies simply that whatever good one might promise himself from striving with his fellow-creature of the earth, to strive with one's Maker is suicidal madness on the face of it (Isaiah 27:4).

Shall the clay say ... or thy work, He hath no hands? - or 'Shall thy work say of thee, He hath no hands?'

Verse 10

Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

Woe unto him that saith unto (his) father, What begettest thou? If it be wrong for a child, born in less favourable circumstances, to upbraid his parents with having given him birth; a fortiori, it is, to upbraid God for His dealings with us. Horsley translates 'a father,' and explains, 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? But while this ultimate reference to the Gentiles is true, the translation in the English version, "his father," is clearly right, answering to "his Maker" (Isaiah 45:9). Forerius' view is probably right, 'Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou?' 'Why dost thou beget other children?' This will apply to the Jews grieving at the accession of the Gentiles.

Verse 11

Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.

Thus saith the Lord ... Ask me of things to come ... command ye me. 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 (Mark 11:24; John 16:23; John 16:13, latter part of the verse; 1 John 3:22).

Concerning my sons - (Isaiah 54:13 ; Galatians 3:26 .) and concerning the work of my hands - spiritually (Ephesians 2:10); also literal Israel (Isaiah 60:21). Lowth reads it interrogatively, Do ye presume to question me, and dictate to me concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands, to do what I will with mine own? (see Isaiah 45:9-10.) The same sense is given if the words be taken in irony. But the English version is best.

Verse 12

I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

I have made the earth, and created man upon it. The same argument for prayer, drawn from God's omnipotence and consequent power to grant any request, occurs, Isaiah 40:26-31. I, even my hands. So the Hebrew. Psalms 44:2, "Thou ... thy hand," both nominatives, in apposition.

Verse 13

I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.

I have raised him up ... he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward

- Cyrus, type of Messiah, who redeems the captives of Satan "without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1), "freely" (gratuitously) (Isaiah 52:3; Isaiah 61:1; Zechariah 9:11; Romans 3:24).

In righteousness - to fulfill my righteous purpose (note, Isaiah 41:2; Isaiah 42:6; Jeremiah 23:6).

Verse 14

Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.

The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans ... shall come over unto thee. The language literally and primarily alludes to Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba being given to Cyrus as a ransom in lieu of Israel, whom he restored (Isaiah 43:3), but mainly and fully describes the gathering in of the Gentiles to Israel (Acts 2:10-11; Acts 8:27-38), especially at Israel's future restoration (Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 14:1-2; Isaiah 19:18-22; Isaiah 60:3-14; Isaiah 49:23; Psalms 68:31; Psalms 72:10-11).

Labour - wealth acquired by labour (Jeremiah 3:24).

Sabeans, men of stature - the men of Meroe, in Upper Egypt. Herodotus (3: 20) calls the Ethiopians 'the tallest of men' (note, Isaiah 18:2; 1 Chronicles 11:23).

Thee - Jerusalem, ("my city," Isaiah 45:13).

In chains - (Psalms 149:8; Zechariah 14:12-19; "the saints shall judge the world," 1 Corinthians 6:2; and 'rule the nations with a rod of iron,' Revelation 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 (John 12:48; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 19:15).

They shall make supplication unto thee (saying) Surely God (is) in thee (Jeremiah 3:17; Jeremiah 3:19) They shall make supplication unto thee, (saying), Surely God (is) in thee - (Jeremiah 3:17-19).

Verse 15

Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.

Verily thou (art) a God that hidest thyself. Horsley, after Jerome, explains this as the confession of Egypt, etc., that God is concealed in human form in the person of Jesus. Rather, connected with Isaiah 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 God's dealings (Isaiah 55:8-9; Deuteronomy 29:29). Faith still discerns, even under the veil, and "waits upon" the covenant-keeping God of Israel the Saviour (Isaiah 8:17).

Verse 16

They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.

They shall be ashamed - disappointed in their expectation of help from their idols (note, Isaiah 42:17; Psalms 97:7).

Verse 17

But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

(But) Israel shall be saved in the Lord (Isaiah 45:24-25) - contrasted with the idols which cannot give even temporary help (Isaiah 45:16).

With an everlasting salvation. In Yahweh there is everlasting salvation (Isaiah 26:4).

Ye shall not be ashamed - opposed to the doom of the idolaters, who, in the hour of need, shall be "ashamed" (note, Isaiah 45:16).

Verse 18

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens - (note, Isaiah 45:12.)

He created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited - therefore, Judah lying waste during the Babylonian captivity, shall be populated again by the exiles. The Jews, from this passage, infer that, after the resurrection, the earth shall be inhabited; because there can be no reason why the earth should then exist in vain anymore than now (2 Peter 3:13).

Verse 19

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth - not like the pagan oracles which gave their responses from dark caverns, with studied obscurity (Isaiah 48:16). Christ plainly quotes these words, thereby identifying Himself with Yahweh, John 18:20, "In secret have I said nothing."

I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain - When I commanded you to seek me (Yahweh did so, Isaiah 45:11, "Ask me," etc.), it was not in order that ye might be sent empty away (Deuteronomy 32:47). 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 (Isaiah 62:6-10; Psalms 102:13-17; Psalms 102:19-21). So in the case of all believers, the spiritual Israel.

I the Lord speak righteousness - what is veracious: not in the equivocal terms of pagan responses, fitly symbolized by the 'dark places' from which they were uttered.

I declare things that are right - true (note, Isaiah 41:26).

Verse 20

Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.

Draw near together, ye (that are) escaped of the nations - those of the nations who shall have escaped the slaughter inflicted by Cyrus. Now, at last, we shall see the folly of 'praying to a god that cannot save' (Isaiah 45:16). Ultimately those that shall be 'left of all the nations which shall come against Jerusalem' are meant (Zechariah 14:16). They shall then all be converted to the Lord (Isaiah 66:23-24; Jeremiah 3:17; Zechariah 8:20-23).

Verse 21

Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

Tell ye, and bring (them) near - Announce my summons so as to bring near before me the advocates of idols from all nations. Challenge to the worshippers of idols (Isaiah 41:1).

Let them take counsel together - as to the best arguments wherewith to defend the cause of idolatry.

(Who) hath told it from that time? - as I, Yahweh, have (Isaiah 41:22-23; note, Isaiah 44:8). 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 Christ's manifestation.

(There is) no God else besides me; a just God, and a Saviour - righteous in keeping my promises, and therefore a Saviour to His people. Righteous also in not sacrificing a jot of my justice, while giving salvation; but on the contrary setting my justice forth in the brightest light through redemption. Not only is it not inconsistent with, but it is the result of, His righteousness, or justice, that He should save His redeemed (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 42:21; Psalms 85:10-11; Romans 3:26).

Verse 22

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Look unto me, and be ye saved. The second imperative expresses the result which will follow obedience to the first (Genesis 42:18; 'by looking unto me ye shall be saved,' John 3:14-15; Numbers 21:9, "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 (Acts 16:30-31). Believers look by faith, the eye of the soul. The look is that of one turning the face (penu eelai) to God, as at once 'Just and the Saviour' (Isaiah 45:21) - i:e., the look of conversion (Psalms 22:27).

Verse 23

I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

I have sworn by myself - equivalent to, "As I live," as Romans 14:11 quotes it. So Numbers 14:21. God could swear by no greater, therefore swears by Himself (Hebrews 6:13; Hebrews 6:16).

The word is gone out of my mouth (in) righteousness - or 'the truth ( tsªdaaqaah (H6666)) (note, Isaiah 45:19) is gone forth from my mouth, the word (of promise), and it shall not return (i:e., which shall not be revoked') (Lowth). But the accents favour the English version. Literally, 'there is gone out of my mouth the righteousness-word.'

Unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear - namely, an oath of allegiance to God as their true King (note, Isaiah 19:18; Isaiah 65:16). Yet to be fulfilled (Zechariah 14:9).

Verse 24

Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.

Surely, shall (one) say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength - or, as the Chaldaic, 'Only in Yahweh shall men say of me (this clause is parenthetical) is there righteousness' (which includes salvation, Isaiah 45:21, "a just God and a Saviour;" Isaiah 46:13), etc. (Maurer.) But the accent separates "say" from 'to me' (Hebrew, li); and the Vulgate supports the English version. Literally, "Surely," or 'Only in the Lord (there are) to me (shall [one] say) righteousnesses (i:e., all righteousness, imputed, as also imparted, so as to be inherent) and strength' (for enabling me to obey God). So DeDieu.

(Even) to him shall (men) come. Those who have set themselves up against God shall come to Him in penitence for the past (Isaiah 19:22).

All that are incensed against him shall be ashamed - (Isaiah 45:16; Isaiah 54:17; Isaiah 41:11.)

Verse 25

In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

All the seed of Israel - the spiritual Israel (Romans 2:29) and the literal Israel - i:e., the final remnant which shall all be saved (Isaiah 45:17; Romans 11:26).

Be justified - treated as if they were just, through Christ's righteousness and death (Jeremiah 23:5).

And shall glory ( yithalluw (H1984)) - literally, sing in His praise (Jeremiah 9:24; 1 Corinthians 1:31).

Remarks: Cyrus is a striking type of Messiah, the Anointed One of God. For the sake of Israel, the elect servant of Yahweh, Cyrus was "called" by God, and his "right hand" was upholden, so that the nations were 'subdued before him,' and the gates of mighty Babylon 'opened before him.' So Yahweh made "the crooked places straight" before Messiah, and burst open for Him the gates of death, and gave Him "the treasures" which Satan the strong man had long kept in his house of "darkness." But the antitype always exceeds the type. Cyrus knew not God when God called him by name. But Messiah has been from eternity with God, "rejoicing always before Him." The effect of God's designation of Messiah to be the Saviour of mankind shall be ultimately that which the designation of Cyrus to be deliverer of the Jews effected only in part, "from the rising of the sun, and from the west," all shall know that there is "no God besides" Yahweh.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 45". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/isaiah-45.html. 1871-8.
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