Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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;Isaiah 45:1-7. The apostrophe to Cyrus expresses dramatically the purpose of Jehovah in raising up the Persian conqueror. The idea that the true God has made a personal revelation of Himself to the mind of Cyrus is not implied; Cyrus is to learn the religious significance of his mission from its results (Isaiah 45:3), just as mankind at large comes to understand it (Isaiah 45:6). The direct address to Cyrus (Isaiah 45:2 ff.) is prefaced in Isaiah 45:1 by a series of clauses describing his invincible career, which has already attracted the attention of the world. There is a startling resemblance between some of the expressions here used of Jehovah’s choice of Cyrus, and some of those employed by the Babylonian writer of the “Annalistic Tablet” in describing him as the favourite of Merodach. We read there that “Merodach … appointed a prince who should guide aright the wish of the heart which his hand upholds, even Cyrus …” that he “has proclaimed his title; for the sovereignty of all the world does he commemorate his name,” and that he “beheld with joy the deeds of his vicegerent, who was righteous in hand and heart,” and that “like a friend and comrade he went at his side.” (See Introduction, p. xviii.)
to his anointed, to Cyrus] The Hebr. word for “anointed” (mâshîǎḥ), when used as a substantive, is almost confined to the kings of Israel; although in later times there was a tendency to employ it in a wider sense (e.g. of the Patriarchs in Psalm 115:15, of the people in Habakkuk 3:13). Unless Psalm 2:2 be an exception it is never used in the O.T. of the future ideal king (the Messiah); hence the idea that the rôle of the Messianic king is by the prophet transferred to Cyrus is not to be entertained. The title simply designates him as one consecrated by Jehovah to be His agent and representative. This, however, is the only passage where the title is bestowed upon a foreign ruler; Nebuchadnezzar is called the “servant” of Jehovah (Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 43:10), but the more august designation of “His Anointed” is reserved for one who as the Deliverer of Israel and the instrument of the overthrow of polytheism, stands in a still closer relation to Jehovah’s purpose. Comp. “My Shepherd” in ch. Isaiah 44:28; also ch. Isaiah 46:11, Isaiah 48:14.
to subdue &c.] Render: to subdue before him nations, and to loose the loins of kings; to open before him doors, and that gates should not be shut; the infinitive construction is resolved into the finite verb. To loose (lit. “open”) is to ungird, or disarm; see 1 Kings 20:11, where the same verb forms the contrast to “gird.”
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:2, 3. Speaking directly to His Anointed, Jehovah assures him of His continued support in the enterprise that still lies before him.
the crooked places] Lit. “protuberances” or, “swells.” The original word (see on ch. Isaiah 63:1), which does not occur elsewhere as a noun, appears to mean “swollen” or “tumid”; and denotes “hills.” Comp. Ovid Amor. 11. 16. 51 (“tumidi subsidite montes”) and Milton’s
“So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low
Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep.”
(Paradise Lost, Bk. VII. 288.)
the gates (R.V. doors) of brass] Babylon had 100 gates “all of brass,” according to the description of Herodotus (I. 179). Cf. Psalm 107:16.
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.3. the treasures of darkness] i.e. treasures hid in darkness. The following word rendered hidden riches (Heb. maṭmôn, held by some to be the original of the N.T. “Mammon”), means properly treasure hidden underground (Job 3:21; Proverbs 2:4; Jeremiah 41:8). The treasures referred to are chiefly the loot of Sardis, which Xenophon describes as “the richest city of Asia next to Babylon” (Cyrop. VII. 2. 11), and of Babylon itself (Jeremiah 50:37; Jeremiah 51:13). If, as is probable, the capture of the former city was past before the date of the prophecy, rumours of the fabulous wealth of Crœsus, which then found its way into the coffers of Cyrus, may have reached the prophet.
that thou mayest know &c.] Render: that thou mayest know that I Jehovah am He that calleth thee by name (see on ch. Isaiah 43:1), the God of Israel. The prophet apparently expects that Cyrus will come to acknowledge Jehovah as the true God and the author of his success (see ch. Isaiah 41:25). Whether this hope was actually realised is more than ever doubtful since the discovery of cuneiform inscriptions in which Cyrus uses the language of crude polytheism (Records of the Past, Vol. v., pp. 167 f.). [Cf. Sayce, Higher Criticism and the Monuments, pp. 507–511.] Many elements of the prophecy, such as the universal extinction of idolatry, remained unfulfilled, and it is possible that the anticipated conversion of Cyrus to the true faith is one of them (see Ryle’s note on Ezra 1:2 in Cambridge Bible for Schools). The prophet nowhere explains the process by which this spiritual change is to be brought about, but he doubtless regards it as produced by the evidence of prophecy, so frequently dwelt upon in the first nine chapters of the book. The wonderful successes of Cyrus marked him out, to the mind of antiquity, as a favourite of the gods; but the further conviction that Jehovah alone is God proceeds from the knowledge that He alone has foretold his appearance.
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.4. The remainder of the section announces Jehovah’s purpose in raising up Cyrus, which is twofold: (1) the liberation and exaltation of His Servant Israel (Isaiah 45:4), and (2) that His Godhead may be acknowledged throughout the world (Isaiah 45:6). These two motives are inseparable, since it is only through Israel that the character of Jehovah can be made known to the nations. Hence great as the mission of Cyrus is, he is still but the instrument, while Israel is the goal of the Divine activity (Duhm).
I have surnamed thee] i.e. bestowed on thee such honourable appellations as “My Shepherd,” “My Anointed.” See on ch. Isaiah 44:5.
though thou hast not known me] Delitzsch and others somewhat strangely take this to mean “before thou hadst being.” But the words present no difficulty in their natural sense, which is that Cyrus entered on his career of conquest ignorant of the true God who made his way prosperous.
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:5. I gird thee] the contrast to “loose the loins of kings” in Isaiah 45:1.
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.6. The ultimate purpose of the conquest of Cyrus is the universal recognition of the truth asserted in Isaiah 45:5, the sole divinity of Jehovah.
from the west] Lit. from the going down thereof. (On omission of mappîq see Davidson, Grammar § 19. R. c.)
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.7. It has been very generally supposed that the expressions of this verse cover a polemic against the Zoroastrian dualism, with its eternal antagonism between Ahuramazda, the god of light and of goodness, and Ahriman, the god of darkness and evil. The prophet’s language, however, is perfectly general, and it is hardly probable that he would have contented himself with a vague allusion to so important a controversy. And apart from the question whether Cyrus was a Zoroastrian in religion, it is doubtful whether a sharply formulated dualism was a prominent feature of Persian religion in his time. It is more likely therefore that the only dualism here referred to is the dualism latent in every polytheistic system, viz., the ascription of good and evil events to different classes of deities. The context shews that the writer is thinking of the effect of Jehovah’s victory, not specially on Cyrus, but upon men in general; and the truth he asserts is simply that Jehovah as the only God is the disposer of all events, good and evil alike.
and create evil] i.e. not moral evil, but physical evil, calamity. Cf. Amos 3:6, “shall evil befall a city and Jehovah hath not done it?” The prophet’s words are startlingly bold, but they do not go beyond the common O. T. doctrine on the subject, which is free from the speculative difficulties that readily suggest themselves to the mind of a modern reader. There is no thought in the O.T. of reducing all evil, moral and physical, to a single principle. Moral evil proceeds from the will of man, physical evil from the will of God, who sends it as the punishment of sin. The expression “create evil” implies nothing more than that. It is true (as we see from the Book of Job &c.) that the indiscriminateness of physical calamities had begun to cause perplexity in the age to which the prophecy belongs. But the discussion of that question never shook either of the two positions, that sin originates in man, and that God is the author of calamity.
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.8. A lyrical effusion, called forth by the thought of the blessings that will follow the triumph of the true religion. The heavens are represented as showering down gracious influences, which fructify the earth and cause it to bring forth the fruits of salvation. For the figure of the verse, cf. ch. Isaiah 55:10; Hosea 2:21 f.; Psalm 72:6; and esp. Psalm 85:11 (“truth springs out of the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven”).
Drop down] is a causative verb, the obj. being “righteousness” in the next line.
let them bring forth &c.] Rather: let salvation and […] spring forth; let her (the earth) cause righteousness to spring up. The plural verb causes some difficulty. A.V. (and R.V.) appear to take heavens and earth as subj.; but this is hardly possible, first because they belong to different distichs, and secondly, because the verb is always neuter (Deuteronomy 29:17 is no exception). Perhaps a word has been omitted from the text.
Two words are here used for righteousness, that which comes down from heaven is çedeq, that which springs from the earth is çědâqâh. The figure might suggest that çedeq is the cause of which çědâqâh is the effect; the former being the divine “right” which establishes salvation &c., and the latter the human order which is an element of it. But any such distinction is precarious. Salvation (yesha‘) which ordinarily means “deliverance” appears here to be used in its wider sense of “welfare,” like the kindred noun in Job 30:15 (“my welfare is passed away as a cloud”). See Introduction, p. xxviii .
 The idea of salvation has an instructive history. In Arabic the root wasi‘a means to be wide, roomy, spacious, &c.; and hence the Hebr. verb “to save” (which is the causative of this) means primarily “to make room for one,” “to give one freedom or space to move in.” Even in this form the word contains the germ of a valuable religious idea, salvation being essentially freedom for the normal expansion of man’s true life. In the O.T., however, it is always used with express reference to some pressure or impediment, the removal of which constitutes the essence of the act called salvation or the state of salvation which results from it (יֶשַׁע, יְשׁוּעָה, תְּשׁוּעָה). In the earlier literature these names have mostly a secular and political application, denoting “succour” in a military sense, or (more frequently) “victory.” The religious sense grew naturally out of this. At all times it was recognised that Jehovah is the source of deliverance or victory; but at least from the time of the Exile the centre of gravity of the idea was shifted from the temporal act of deliverance to the partly spiritual blessings which were secured by it. Salvation becomes (as in this prophecy) a comprehensive term for that decisive vindication of Israel’s cause which was the foundation of all national well-being. At the same time “these words seldom, if ever, express a spiritual state exclusively; their common theological sense in Hebrew is that of a material deliverance attended by spiritual blessings” (see Driver, Notes on Samuel, p. 90).
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?9–13. These verses are addressed to a section of the exiles who resented the idea of deliverance through a foreign conqueror. The strong word “strive” and the emphatic reassertion of the mission of Cyrus (Isaiah 45:13), as well as the connexion with Isaiah 45:1-8, shew that deliberate opposition to the Divine purpose, and not mere faint-hearted unbelief (as in chs. Isaiah 40:27, Isaiah 51:13), is here referred to. We know too little of the circumstances to understand the precise state of mind from which the objection proceeded. It may have arisen from reluctance to entertain the idea of deliverance through a foreign conqueror, instead of through an Israelite king, as ancient prophecies seemed to promise (e.g., Jeremiah 30:21). The same tendency of thought is probably alluded to in ch. Isaiah 46:12 (the “stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness”).
his maker] the same word as “him that fashioned it” in the second half of the verse. It is the ordinary word for “potter.”
Let the potsherd strive &c.] Render as in R.V. a potsherd among the potsherds of the earth! or, “a potsherd like (no better than) an earthen potsherd.” “With” may mean “among” (as a synonymous word does in Psalm 69:28), or “like” (Job 9:26), but the use of the same preposition in two different senses in one sentence is no doubt harsh.
or thy work, He hath no hands] i.e. no power. Delitzsch instances an identical Arabic phrase (lâ yadai lahu = “it is not in his power”). The LXX. reads “Thou” instead of “He,” and several commentators have suggested a transposition of the suffixes in the original: “or his work, Thou hast no hands.” The emendation is plausible, though perhaps hardly necessary.
Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?10. The impropriety of contending with God exhibited in a still more repellent light. The words “his” and “the” are not expressed in Hebrew; simply “a father,” “a woman.” “The rudest and most outrageous intrusion into an unspeakably delicate and sacred relationship” (Delitzsch).
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.11. The last two verses were probably spoken by the prophet in his own name; here Jehovah addresses the same persons, introducing Himself as the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 41:14) and his maker (Isaiah 45:9). If the text be quite accurate, ask me must mean “ask me, but do not criticise me,” and command me must mean “leave to my care” (as 1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 25:30; 2 Samuel 6:21; 2 Samuel 7:11). But Cheyne well observes that these parallels are not exact, the verb being used of a charge laid on an inferior by a superior; and it is doubtful if it could be suitably employed of committing anything to the charge of God. He supposes that by an easily explicable omission of a consonant an imperf. has been changed into an imper.; and his translation is perhaps more forcible than any that can be obtained from the received text: concerning things to come (Isaiah 41:23, Isaiah 44:7) will ye question (i.e. “interrogate” in a hostile sense) me? and concerning … the work of my hands will ye lay commands upon me?
concerning my sons] should (according to the accents) be taken with what follows (as R.V.); but the phrase is irrelevant and should probably be omitted as a gloss based on Isaiah 45:10.
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.12. Is introductory to Isaiah 45:13; it is the Creator of all things who has destined Cyrus to be the emancipator of Israel.
I, even my hands] The “I” merely lends emphasis to the possessive: “my hands, and not another’s.”
all their host (the stars, not the angels, Isaiah 40:26) have I commanded] or, “ordained.”
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.13. I (again emphatic) have raised him (Cyrus) up in righteousness] i.e. in accordance with a consistent, straightforward and right purpose (cf. ch. Isaiah 42:6). Cf. also chs. Isaiah 41:2; Isaiah 41:25, etc.
he (and no other) shall build my city &c.] See ch. Isaiah 44:27 f.
not for price nor reward] Lit. “not for hire and not for a bribe.” These words remove a difficulty which would naturally suggest itself to the exiles: viz., that there was no conceivable motive that could induce Cyrus to espouse the cause of Israel. The divine answer is that he will do so from an inward impulse (ὁρμή τις, as Josephus expresses it) inspired by Jehovah. There is an apparent but no real contradiction between this assurance and the idea of ch. Isaiah 43:3 f. The restoration of Israel is conceived as preceding the Persian conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia (Isaiah 45:14); that is the reward subsequently given to Cyrus, but not the inducement on which he acted.
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.14. The peoples mentioned are the same as those named in ch. Isaiah 43:3 (see on the passage) as the “ransom” given for Israel. They are apparently represented here as already conquered by Cyrus, the vicegerent and anointed of Jehovah. It has even been supposed that Cyrus is the person addressed in the verse, but this is impossible because of the words “Surely in thee is God,” which certainly could not be addressed to Cyrus. The commonly accepted interpretation that there is no thought of conquest in the passage, but only of spontaneous homage rendered to Israel by distant nations of the earth, is less natural. The idea that the “fetters” are self-imposed is a conceit not readily to be attributed to the prophet, and the whole scene strongly suggests a submission that has been preceded by humiliation and defeat. The meaning probably is that the treasures of the nations are made over to Israel by Cyrus, while the nations themselves recognise the exaltation of Israel as the goal of the Persian victories and worship Jehovah, as the only true God.
and the Sabæans, men of stature] (see on ch. Isaiah 18:2.) Omit “of” with R.V.; the Sabæans offer not tribute, but their persons (as slaves).
shall come over unto thee] Rather: shall pass before thee (as 1 Kings 9:8; 2 Kings 4:9).
in chains they shall come over] in fetters (Nahum 3:10; Psalm 149:8) shall they pass. The word for make supplication is in every other instance used of prayer to God. Israel is recognised as the mediator between the true God and mankind.
Surely God is in thee] In thee only is God. These of course are words of the Sabæans, &c. to Israel, expressing their acceptance of the true religion. Israel’s God has proved Himself to be the God of history, the only God. The expression appears to be alluded to by St Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:25 (“declaring that God is in you indeed”).
14–17. The collapse of the heathen religions is here dramatically represented under the image of a procession of conquered nations of Africa, who pass before Israel, as tributaries and slaves, acknowledging that Israel’s God is the only true divinity. This seems to be the sense, but see below on Isaiah 45:14.
Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.15. It is difficult to say whether this verse continues the confession of the heathen, or whether it contains the prophet’s own reflexion on the marvellous issue of the deliverance.
a God that hidest thyself] The prophet would perhaps hardly have used this language in his own name (see Isaiah 45:19). But to the nations of the world Jehovah had hitherto been a hidden deity; His power and glory had never been reflected in the fortunes of His own people. Now at length He is revealed in His true character, as a “Saviour” (or Deliverer) (see on ch. Isaiah 43:3). Comp., however, ch. Isaiah 55:8 f.; Deuteronomy 29:29; Proverbs 25:2, for a sense in which Jehovah might be said to hide Himself even from Israel.
They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.16, 17. The prophet now speaks, presenting in sharp contrast the confusion of the idolaters (Isaiah 45:16) and the everlasting salvation enjoyed by Israel. The verbs should be rendered as presents.
They shall be ashamed &c.] Better: they are ashamed, yea confounded all of them; they are gone away in confusion (i. e. disgrace) etc. The perfect in Heb. depicts that which will have happened in that day.
The word for “idol” is used in the sense of “form” in Psalm 49:14 (R.V. marg.), only here of an idolatrous image.
But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.17. But Israel shall be saved in the Lord] Israel is saved by Jehovah.
with an everlasting salvation] which shall never be turned into confusion. The state of things introduced by the deliverance is final, including the manifestation of Jehovah as He is, and such a union between Him and His people as can never be dissolved. As is usual in the prophets, the perfect dispensation, or what is called the Messianic age, is conceived as issuing immediately from the historical crisis which is the subject of the prophecy, in this case the deliverance from Babylon.
world without end] More literally: to all eternity. The exact expression does not occur again.
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.18. The words God himself form a sort of parenthesis, and should be rendered as in R.V., he is God (or the God). Cf. 1 Kings 18:39.
he created it not in vain] lit. not a chaos (tôhû). The significance of the expression is seen from the contrast which immediately follows.
he formed it to be inhabited] and therefore the end of His ways cannot be the destruction of the race for whose existence He has prepared the earth. Jehovah’s final purpose must be salvation.
18–25. The long passage on the mission of Cyrus closes here with the announcement of a salvation as universal as it is eternal (Isaiah 45:17). A purpose of universal salvation is in harmony with the character of the God who made the world for man to dwell in (Isaiah 45:18) and whose revelation of Himself to Israel bears the signature of absolute veracity (Isaiah 45:19).
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.19. The same character of goodwill to men is manifest in the manner of Jehovah’s revelation to Israel. It has been intelligible, explicit, and (if the word may be used) candid.
in a dark place of the earth] R.V. in a place of the land of darkness. It is doubtful if there is any direct allusion to the oracles of heathenism, which had frequently to be sought in caves and deserts. The “land of darkness” might be the under-world, from which dubious oracles were obtained by necromancy and other magical arts (ch. Isaiah 8:19; 1 Samuel 28:7 ff.). But the sense is perhaps sufficiently explained (in accordance with what follows) by Jeremiah 2:31 : “Have I been a wilderness unto Israel, a land of darkness?” Jehovah’s revelation has not been like a dark, trackless desert, but a light in which men might walk towards an assured goal.
I said not … Seek ye me in vain] Lit. in chaos (tôhû, as Isaiah 45:18), i.e. without definite guidance and without hope of result. When Jehovah said, “Seek me,” He meant that He should be found (Jeremiah 29:13); in other words He has dealt openly and frankly with His people. It is this quality of revelation that is denoted by the word righteousness in the last line of the verse. It is used in its ethical sense of “trust-worthiness” or straightforwardness,—perfect correspondence between deeds and words.
things that are right] uprightness. The plural, as always in this word, expresses the abstract idea (see ch. Isaiah 26:7).
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.20. that set up the wood …] Render, with R.V., that carry, &c., in religious processions (Amos 5:26), or perhaps into battle (2 Samuel 5:21). That idols have to be carried is a sign of their powerlessness (Isaiah 46:1 f.; Jeremiah 10:5).
a god that cannot save] The contrast in the end of Isaiah 45:21.
20, 21. The heathen are now summoned together that they may consider this attribute of Jehovah’s character, as illustrated by the prediction of the victories of Cyrus. The question submitted to them is the same as in Isaiah 41:1-4; Isaiah 41:21-29, Isaiah 43:9-13 : who has foretold these events? But this scene is imagined as taking place after the great crisis is over; hence those addressed are the escaped of the nations (cf. Jeremiah 51:50), the survivors of a world-wide judgement, of which Cyrus is the instrument (see Isaiah 45:14).
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.21. Tell ye] Better: Declare ye, as R.V.
bring them near] Some such object as “your strong arguments” (Isaiah 41:21) must be supplied, and has probably dropped out of the text.
who hath declared this …?] i.e. the rise of Cyrus and his conquests. The phrase from that time should be either beforehand or long ago (see on ch. Isaiah 16:13).
a just God … beside me] Better as a single sentence: a righteous God and a Deliverer there is not besides me. Both attributes have been exhibited in the recent crisis; righteousness (see on Isaiah 45:19) in the explicit predictions of Cyrus, and salvation in the deliverance of Israel.
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.22. Look unto me] is strictly Turn unto me (sc. for help), a phrase elsewhere used of the acknowledgment of false gods (Leviticus 19:4; Hosea 3:1; Deuteronomy 30:17 &c., Deuteronomy 31:18 &c.; cf. Job 5:1). The second imperative expresses the consequence of the first: “Turn to Me and ye shall be saved.” “Salvation” here has still its ordinary sense of deliverance; although the great judgement is past, it is plainly assumed that only those who own Jehovah’s sovereignty shall be spared (Isaiah 45:23). But the thought that it depends on knowledge of the true God, who is the God of salvation, conveys the suggestion at least of a more positive meaning; cf. John 17:3.
22–25. The demonstration of Jehovah’s deity is followed by the proclamation of salvation to all mankind, and the declaration of His purpose that all the world shall worship Him.
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.23. By myself have I sworn] Cf. Genesis 22:16; Jeremiah 22:5; and see Hebrews 6:13. The form of Jehovah’s oath by Himself is given in ch. Isaiah 49:18, “as I live, saith Jehovah.”
the word is gone out &c.] Or, as R.V. marg.: righteousness is gone forth from my mouth, a word which (lit. “and it”) shall not return (cf. ch. Isaiah 55:10 f.).
righteousness here means that which shall be verified,—a word to which the deed will correspond.
every knee shall bow (in homage, 1 Kings 19:18), every tongue shall swear (fealty, ch. Isaiah 19:18)]. The reading “confess” is substituted for “swear” in some codices of the LXX., as in Romans 14:11, Php 2:10-11.
24, 25 express the faith of the religious community of the future.
Surely, shall one say, in the Lord &c.] Better: Only in Jehovah, shall one say, &c. The R.V. gives a different turn to the thought by including the word for “to me” in the parenthesis (“shall one say to me” [marg. “of me”]); while the A.V. treats it as part of the main sentence (“there is to me,” i.e. “I have”). On the former view righteousness and strength are divine attributes; on the latter they are blessings bestowed by Jehovah on men. The rendering of A.V. is preferable, although it is opposed to the Hebr. accents.
righteousness] lit. “righteousnesses,” the idea being intensified by the plural. It is often used of the mighty acts of Jehovah, the individual instances in which His righteous character is manifested (1 Samuel 12:7; Mi. Isaiah 6:5; Psalm 71:15 ff. &c.); here in like manner it must denote the experiences through which a right relation to God is verified. The parallelism with “strength” shews that it is almost identical with salvation or victory (see on ch. Isaiah 41:2 and Isaiah 46:13).
even to him … ashamed] to him shall one come &c.; or, to him shall come with shame all that were incensed (Isaiah 41:11) against him. The verb “be ashamed” seems merely to be a qualification of “shall come.”
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.
In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.25. be justified] lit. be righteous, i.e. “enjoy righteousness” in the same sense as Isaiah 45:24. Comp. Jeremiah 23:6 (“Jehovah our Righteousness”).