Isaiah 45:13
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, said the LORD of hosts.
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(13) I have raised him up in righteousness . . .—This was the answer to the murmurers. It would be seen by the results, the city rebuilt, the exiles restored to their home, that the conquests of Cyrus had been ordered by the loving righteousness of Jehovah; and he would do this, not through the greed and ambition of other conquerors, but because the spirit of the Lord stirred him (2Chronicles 36:22).

45:11-19 Believers may ask in prayer for what they need; if for their good, it will not be withheld. But how common to hear God called to account for his dealings with man! Cyrus provided for the returning Jews. Those redeemed by Christ shall be provided for. The restoration would convince many, and convert some; and all that truly join the Lord, find his service perfect freedom. Though God be his people's God and Saviour, yet sometimes he lays them under his frowns; but let them wait upon the Lord who hides his face. There is a world without end; and it will be well or ill with us, according as it shall be with us in that world. The Lord we serve and trust, is God alone. All that God has said is plain, satisfactory, and just. As God in his word calls us to seek him, so he never denied believing prayers, nor disappointed believing expectations. He gives grace sufficient, and comfort and satisfaction of soul.I have raised him up - That is. Cyrus (see the notes at Isaiah 41:2).

In righteousness - In Isaiah 41:2, he is called 'the righteous man.' He had raised him up to accomplish his own righteous plans. It does not necessarily mean that Cyrus was a righteous man (see the notes at Isaiah 41:2).

And I will direct all his ways - Margin, 'Make straight.' This is the meaning of the Hebrew word (see the notes at Isaiah 40:4). The sense here is, I will make his paths all smooth and level, that is, whatever obstacles are in his way I will remove, and give him eminent success.

He shall build my city - Jerusalem. See Ezra 1:2, where, in his proclamation, Cyrus says, 'Jehovah, God of heaven, hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.' It is very probable that Cyrus was made acquainted with these predictions of Isaiah. Nothing would be more natural than that the Jews in Babylon, when he should become master of the city, knowing that he was the monarch to whom Isaiah referred, and that he had been raised up for their deliverance, should acquaint him with these remarkable prophecies, and show him that God bad long before designated aim to accomplish this great work (compare the notes at Isaiah 44:28).

And he shall let go my captives - Hebrew, 'My captivity,' or 'my migration;' that is, those of his people who were in captivity.

Not for price - They shall not be purchased of him as slaves, nor shall they be required to purchase their own freedom. They shall be sent away as freemen, and no price shall be exacted for their ransom (compare Isaiah 52:3). The Jews in Babylon were regarded as captives in war, and therefore as slaves.

Nor for reward - The Hebrew word used here (שׁחד shochad) denotes properly that which is given to conciliate the favor of others, and hence, often a bribe. Here it means, that nothing should be given to Cyrus for their purchase, or to induce him to set them at liberty. He should do it of his own accord. It was a fact that he not only released them, but that he endowed them with rich arid valuable gifts, to enable them to restore their temple and city Ezra 1:7-11.

13. him—Cyrus, type of Messiah, who redeems the captives of Satan "without money and without price" (Isa 55:1), "freely" (gratuitously) (Isa 52:3; 61:1; Zec 9:11; Ro 3:24).

in righteousness—to fulfil My righteous purpose (see on [804]Isa 41:2; [805]Isa 42:6; [806]Jer 23:6).

I have raised him; Cyrus, who; was named before, Isaiah 45:1.

In righteousness; not in a way of absolute sovereignty, as I might have done, but most justly, to punish the wicked Babylonians, to plead the cause of the innocent oppressed ones, to manifest my own righteousness, and truth, and goodness.

Direct all his ways; guide and assist him in all his travels and marches, in all his attempts, and battles, and sieges, crowning him with success in all his undertakings.

Not for price nor reward; freely, without requiring any ransom for or from them, as is usual in such cases. Such an exact prediction of these things, which depended wholly upon the mind and will of Cyrus, is mentioned here, as an infallible evidence of the certainty of God’s foreknowledge, and of his being the only true God, because idols could discover no such things at such a distance of time. I have raised him up in righteousness,.... Though this may be said with some respect to Cyrus, yet chiefly to Christ, of whom Cyrus was a type; him the Lord appointed and determined to be the Saviour and Redeemer of his people; him he sent forth in time for that purpose, in righteousness or faithfulness to concerning him: or, "unto righteousness" (s), as the Vulgate Latin version; to bring in an everlasting righteousness for the justification of his people: or, "with righteousness", as the Septuagint version is (t):

I have raised him up a King with righteousness; a righteous King, a King that reigns in righteousness, as Christ does, and better agrees with him than Cyrus; see Jeremiah 23:5,

and I will direct all his ways; or "make them plain" (u); remove all difficulties and obstructions out of his way; he shall succeed and prosper, as the "pleasure of the Lord did prosper" in the hands of Christ; God being at his right hand as man and Mediator, to direct, counsel, and assist him, and to make him successful:

he shall build my city; not Cyrus, for he did not build the city of Jerusalem, whatever orders he might give for it, Isaiah 44:28 though his proclamation only mentions the temple, Ezra 1:2, but Christ, the builder of the church, often compared to a city, and called the city of God, of which the saints are fellow citizens; and which is built by Christ, upon himself the Rock, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail, Matthew 16:18,

and he shall let go my captives, not for price, nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts; the Lord's people are captives to sin, Satan, and the law; Christ has not only redeemed these captives, but has proclaimed liberty to them, and delivered them from their bondage by his Spirit and grace; and all this freely, not through any merits of theirs, but of his own rich grace and mercy; and though they are redeemed with a price; yet not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ; and whatever their redemption and freedom cost him, it costs them nothing, it is to them without money and without price, Isaiah 52:3.

(s) "adjustitiam", V. L. (t) , Sept. "cum justitia", Forerius. (u) "aequabo", Piscator; "aequaturus", Junius & Tremellius; "rectificabo", Vatablus; "rectificabam", Cocceius; "aequas faciam", Vitringa.

I have raised {p} 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 {q} price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.

(p) That is, Cyrus, that I may show by him the faithfulness of my promise in delivering my people.

(q) Meaning, freely and without ransom, or any grievous condition.

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.Verse 13. - I have raised him up. "Him" can only be referred to Cyrus, the one individual mentioned previously in the chapter (vers. 1-5). The expression," raised up," had been already used of him (Isaiah 41:25). In righteousness means "to carry out my righteous purposes." I will direct; rather, as in the margin, make straight. He... shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward. Captives were often "redeemed for a price" (Nehemiah 6:8). In Greece a fixed sum was established by general consent as the ransom of a captive (Aristot., 'Eth. Nic.,' 5:6). Cyrus, however, in letting the Jews go free, would not be actuated by the paltry motive of pecuniary profit. He may, as Mr. Cheyne remarks, have been actuated in part "by a consideration of the usefulness of such a faithful advanced guard at the border of Egypt;" but mainly it is probable that "he obeyed the dictates of religious sympathy with the Jews." The recent contention, that he was not a Zoroastrian (Sayce, Academy, October 16, 1880; 'Ancient Empires,' p. 439; Cheyne, 'Isaiah,' vol. 2. p. 279) rests upon insufficient evidence, his so-called inscription being a document not put forth by himself, but by the priests of Merodach at Babylon; and the first introduction of Zoroastrian monotheism into the state religion of Persia by Darius Hystaspis (Sayce, 'Ancient Empires,' p. 440) being expressly disclaimed by him in the Be-histun inscription, where he declares his reformation to have consisted in the rebuilding of the temples which Gomates the Magian had destroyed, and the reinstitutier for the state of the religious chants and the worship which he had put down (col 1. par. 14). A second and third object are introduced by a second and third למען. "For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I called thee hither by name, surnamed thee when thou knewest me not. I Jehovah, and there is none else, beside me no God: I equipped thee when thou knewest me not; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and its going down, that there is none without me: I Jehovah, and there is none else, former of the light, and creator of the darkness; founder of peace, and creator of evil: I Jehovah am He who worketh all this." The ואקרא which follows the second reason assigned like an apodosis, is construed doubly: "I called to thee, calling thee by name." The parallel אכנּך refers to such titles of honour as "my shepherd" and "my anointed," which had been given to him by Jehovah. This calling, distinguishing, and girding, i.e., this equipment of Cyrus, took place at a time when Cyrus knew nothing as yet of Jehovah, and by this very fact Jehovah made known His sole Deity. The meaning is, not that it occurred while he was still worshipping false gods, but, as the refrain-like repetition of the words "though thou hast not know me" affirms with strong emphasis, before he had been brought into existence, or could know anything of Jehovah. The passage is to be explained in the same way as Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee" (see Psychol. pp. 36, 37, 39); and what the God of prophecy here claims for Himself, must not be questioned by false criticism, or weakened down by false apologetics (i.e., by giving up the proper name Cyrus as a gloss in Isaiah 44:28 and Isaiah 45:1; or generalizing it into a king's name, such as Pharaoh, Abimelech, or Agag). The third and last object of this predicted and realized success of the oppressor of nations and deliverer of Israel is the acknowledgement of Jehovah, spreading over the heathen world from the rising and setting of the sun, i.e., in every direction. The ah of וּממּערבה is not a feminine termination (lxx, Targ., Jer.), but a feminine suffix with He raphato pro mappic (Kimchi); compare Isaiah 23:17-18; Isaiah 34:17 (but not נצּה in Isaiah 18:5, or מוּסדה in Isaiah 30:32). Shemesh (the sun) is a feminine here, as in Genesis 15:17, Nahum 3:17, Malachi 4:2, and always in Arabic; for the west is invariably called מערב (Arab. magrib). In Isaiah 45:7 we are led by the context to understand by darkness and evil the penal judgments, through which light and peace, or salvation, break forth for the people of God and the nations generally. But as the prophecy concerning Cyrus closes with this self-assertion of Jehovah, it is unquestionably a natural supposition that there is also a contrast implied to the dualistic system of Zarathustra, which divided the one nature of the Deity into two opposing powers (see Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, p. 135). The declaration is so bold, that Marcion appealed to this passage as a proof that the God of the Old Testament was a different being from the God of the New, and not the God of goodness only. The Valentinians and other gnostics also regarded the words "There is no God beside me" in Isaiah, as deceptive words of the Demiurugs. The early church met them with Tertullian's reply, "de his creator profitetur malis quae congruunt judici," and also made use of this self-attestation of the God of revelation as a weapon with which to attack Manicheesism. The meaning of the words is not exhausted by those who content themselves with the assertion, that by the evil (or darkness) we are not to understand the evil of guilt (malum culpae), but the evil of punishment (malum paenae). Undoubtedly, evil as an act is not the direct working of God, but the spontaneous work of a creature endowed with freedom. At the same time, evil, as well as good, has in this sense its origin in God - that He combines within Himself the first principles of love and wrath, the possibility of evil, the self-punishment of evil, and therefore the consciousness of guilt as well as the evil of punishment in the broadest sense. When the apostle celebrates the glory of free grace in Romans 9:11., he stands on that giddy height, to which few are able to follow him without falling headlong into the false conclusions of a decretum absolutum, and the denial of all creaturely freedom.
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