Isa 41:1-29. Additional
Reasons Why the Jews Should Place Confidence in God's Promises of
Delivering Them; He Will Raise Up a Prince as Their Deliverer, Whereas the Idols Could Not Deliver the
Heathen Nations from That Prince.
1. (Zec 2:13). 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
islands—including all regions
beyond sea (Jer 25:22),
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 Isa 1:18; Job 9:32). "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,
32:17; compare 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 Isa 41:25, 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 not God, Isa 45:4). 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 Isa 7:23, 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 Ezr 1:2, Cyrus acknowledges Jehovah as the
Giver of his victories. He subdued the nations from the Euxine to the
Red Sea, and even Egypt (says Xenophon).
dust—(Isa 17:13; 29:5; Ps
18:42). Persia, Cyrus'
country, was famed for the use of the "bow" (Isa 22:6). "Before him" means "gave them into
his power" (Jos 10:12).
Maurer translates, "Gave his (the
enemy's) sword to be dust, and his (the enemy's) bow to be as stubble"
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
4. Who—else but God?
calling … generations from …
beginning—The origin and position of all nations are from God
32:8; Ac 17:26); 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;
5. feared—that they would be
drew near, and came—together, for
6. Be of good courage—Be not alarmed
because of Cyrus, but make new images to secure the favor of the gods
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
8. Contrast between the idolatrous nations
whom God will destroy by Cyrus, and Israel whom God will deliver by the
same man for their forefathers' sake.
servant—so termed as being chosen by
God to worship Him themselves, and to lead other peoples to do the same
Jacob … chosen—(Ps 135:4).
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 (De 4:37; Ho 11:1).
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 Jerome.
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 thee.
11. ashamed—put to the shame of defeat
(compare Isa 54:17; Ro 9:33).
12. seek … and … not
find—said of one so utterly put out of the way that not a
trace of him can be found (Ps 37:36).
thing of naught—shall utterly
13. (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 Himself (Ps 22:6), 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 "help" them.
15. God will make Israel to destroy their
enemies as the Eastern corn-drag (Isa 28:27, 28) bruises out the grain with its teeth,
and gives the chaff to the winds to scatter.
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 to Israel (Isa 2:14).
16. fan—winnowed (compare Mt 3:12).
whirlwind … scatter them—(Job 27:21;
17. poor and needy—primarily, the exiles
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
18. Alluding to the waters with which Israel
was miraculously supplied in the desert after having come out of
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.
19. (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 [Gesenius] 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 (Isa 41:1; 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 (Isa 2:3; Zec 8:21-23).
21. A new challenge to the idolaters (see
7) to say, can their idols
predict future events as Jehovah can (Isa 41:22-25, &c.)?
your strong reasons—the reasons for
idol-worship which you think especially strong.
22. what shall happen—"Let them bring
near and declare future contingencies" [Horsley].
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 come") (Isa 42:9), [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 detached events.
23. do good … evil—give any proof
at all of your power, either to reward your friends or punish your
enemies (Ps 115:2-8).
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 worshippers.
24. of nothing—(See on Isa 40:17). The Hebrew text is here corrupt; so
English Version treats it.
abomination—abstract for concrete: not
merely abominable, but the essence of whatever is so
chooseth you—as an object of
25. raised up—in purpose: not fulfilled
till a hundred fifty years afterwards.
north—In Isa 41:2, "from the East"; both are true: see the
call … my name—acknowledge Me as
God, and attribute his success to Me; this he did in the proclamation
1:2). 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 5:1-27;
compare 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 (Isa 10:6).
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
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 Isa 40:9). None of the idols had foretold these
events. Jehovah was the "first" to do so (see Isa 41:4).
28. no counsellor—no one of the
idolatrous soothsayers who could inform (Nu 24:14) those who consulted them what
would take place. Compare "counsel of His messenger" (Isa 44:26).
when I asked—that is, challenged them,
in this chapter.
29. confusion—"emptiness" [Barnes].