Isaiah 45:2
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:
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(2) Make the crooked places straight.—Better, make the dwelling-places smoothi.e., remove all obstacles (comp. 40:4, 42:16).

Isaiah 45:2-3. I will go before thee — To remove all obstructions, and prepare the way for thee. “The divine protection which attended Cyrus, and rendered his expedition against Babylon easy and prosperous, is finely expressed by this highly poetical image of God’s going before him, and making the mountains level.” I will break in pieces the gates of brass — I will destroy all that oppose thee, and carry thee through the greatest difficulties. “Abydenus says that the wall of Babylon had brazen gates. And Herodotus more particularly: ‘In the wall all round, there are a hundred gates all of brass; and so, in like manner, are the sides and the lintels.’ The gates, likewise, within the city, opening to the river, from the several streets, were of brass; as were those also of the temple of Belus.” And I will give thee the treasures of darkness — Treasures that have been stored up, and long kept in dark and secret places, as well in Babylon (Jeremiah 50:37; and Jeremiah 51:13) as in other countries which Cyrus conquered, and from which, as Pliny and others relate, he took infinite treasures. “Sardes and Babylon,” as we learn from Xenophon, “when taken by Cyrus, were the wealthiest cities in the world. Crœsus, celebrated beyond all the kings of that age for his riches, gave up his treasures to Cyrus, with an exact account, in writing, of the whole, containing the particulars with which each wagon was loaded, when they were carried away: and they were delivered to Cyrus at the palace of Babylon. The gold and silver estimated by weight, according to the account given by Pliny, amount to 126,224,000 pounds sterling.” — Bishop Lowth. That thou mayest know that I am the God of Israel — That I, Jehovah, who have so highly favoured thee, and have mentioned thy name so long beforehand, as the peculiar instrument of my providence, am the true God, and that Israel is my people. If this prophecy was shown to Cyrus, as Josephus says it was, Antiq., lib. 2. cap. 2, (see note on Ezra 1:1,) it is very reasonable to suppose, when he found his own name mentioned in it, and his achievements described so long before, he must thereby be brought to know and acknowledge the God of Israel to be the only living and true God.

45:1-4 Cyrus is called God's anointed; he was designed and qualified for his great service by the counsel of God. The gates of Babylon which led to the river, were left open the night that Cyrus marched his army into the empty channel. The Lord went before him, giving entrance to the cities he besieged. He gave him also treasures, which had been hidden in secret places. The true God was to Cyrus an unknown God; yet God foreknew him; he called him by his name. The exact fulfilment of this must have shown Cyrus that Jehovah was the only true God, and that it was for the sake of Israel that he was prospered. In all the changes of states and kingdoms, God works out the good of his church.I will go before thee - To prepare the way for conquest, a proof that it is by the providence of God that the proud conquerors of the earth are enabled to triumph. The idea is, I will take away everything that would retard or oppose your victorious march.

And make the crooked paths straight - (See the note at Isaiah 40:4). The Chaldee renders this, 'My word shall go before thee, and I will prostrate the walls.' Lowth renders it, 'Make the mountains plain.' Noyes, 'Make the high places plain.' The Septuagint renders it, Ὄρη ὁμαλιῶ Orē homaliō - 'Level mountains.' Vulgate, Gloriosos terroe humiliabo - 'The high places of the earth I will bring down.' The word הדוּרים hădûrı̂ym is from הדר hâdar, to be large, ample, swollen, tumid; and probably means the swollen tumid places, that is, the hills or elevated places; and the idea is, that God would make them level, or would remove all obstructions out of his way.

I will break in pieces the gates of brass - Ancient cities were surrounded by walls, and secured by strong gates, which were not unfrequently made of brass. To Babylon there were one hundred gates, twenty-five on each side of the city, which, with their posts, were made of brass. 'In the circumference of the walls,' says Herodotus (i. 179), 'at different distances, were a hundred massy gates of brass, whose hinges and frames were of the same metal.' It was to this, doubtless, that the passage before us refers.

The bars of iron - With which the gates of the city were fastened. 'One method of securing the gates of fortified places among the ancients, was to cover them with thick plates of iron - a custom which is still used in the East, and seems to be of great antiquity. We learn from Pitts, that Algiers has five gates, and some of these have two, some three other gates within them, and some of them plated all over with iron. Pococke, speaking of a bridge near Antioch, called the iron bridge, says, that there are two towers belonging to it, the gates of which are covered with iron plates. Some of these gates are plated over with brass; such are the enormous gates of the principal mosque at Damascus, formerly the church of John the Baptist' (Paxton). The general idea in these passages is, that Cyrus would owe his success to divine interposition; and that that interposition would be so striking that it would be manifest that he owed his success to the favor of heaven. This was so clear in the history of Cyrus, that it is recognized by himself, and was also recognized even by the pagan who witnessed the success of his arms. Thus Cyrus says Ezra 1:2, 'Jehovah, God of heaven, hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth.' Thus Herodotus (i. 124) records the fact that Harpagus said in a letter to Cyrus, 'Son of Cambyses, heaven evidently favors you, or you could never have thus risen superior to fortune.' So Herodotus (i. 205) says that Cyrus regarded himself as endowed with powers more than human:, 'When he considered the special circumstances of his birth, he believed himself more than human. He reflected also on the prosperity of his arms, and that wherever he had extended his excursions, he had been followed by success and victory.'

2. crooked … straight—(Isa 40:4), rather, "maketh mountains plain" [Lowth], that is, clear out of thy way all opposing persons and things. The Keri reads as in Isa 45:13, "make straight" (Margin).

gates of brass—(Ps 107:16). Herodotus (1.179) says, Babylon had a hundred massive gates, twenty-five on each of the four sides of the city, all, as well as their posts, of brass.

bars of iron—with which the gates were fastened.

I will go before thee, to remove all obstructions, and to prepare the way for thee, as it follows.

I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; I will destroy all them that oppose thee, and carry thee through the greatest difficulties.

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight,.... Or, "level the hilly places" (c); as pioneers do. The sense is, that he would remove all impediments and obstructions out of his way, and cause him to surmount all difficulties:

I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; with which the brasen gates were barred: in the wall that surrounded Babylon there were a hundred gates, all made of solid brass, twenty five on each side of the square; which, no doubt, are here referred to; which could not hinder the entrance of Cyrus into the city, and the taking of it; though they were not then destroyed by him, but by Darius afterwards (d) these gates of brass are mentioned by Abydenus (e), as made by Nebuchadnezzar, and as continuing till the empire of the Macedonians.

(c) The Septuagint render the word by mountains; Gussetius by eminences, high places, such as stood in the way of passage into countries. The Vulgate Latin interprets it of glorious persons; and Abendana says it is right to understand it in this way; and applies it to Zerubbabel, and those that went up with him to Jerusalem, with the leave of Cyrus, who were good men, and honourable in their works, whom the Lord directed in their way right, and prospered them in the building of the temple, (d) Herodot. l. 1. c. 179. l. 3. c. 159. (e) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 41. p. 457.

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

(d) I will take away all impediments and hindrances.

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.

Verse 2. - I will... make the crooked places straight; rather, I will make the rugged places level. No doubt intended generally, "I will smooth his way before him." The gates of brass... the bars of iron. According to Herodotus, the gates of Babylon were of solid bronze, and one hundred in number (1:179). Solid bronze gates have, however, nowhere been found, and would have been inconvenient from their enormous weight. It is probable that the "gates of brass," or "bronze," whereof we read, were always, like these found at Ballarat, of wood plated with bronze. To the eye these would be "gates of bronze." Gates of towns were, as a matter of course, secured by bars, which would commonly be made of iron, as the strongest material. Iron was well known to the Babylonians (Herod., 1:186). Isaiah 45:2The first strophe of the first half of this sixth prophecy (Isaiah 44:24.), the subject of which is Cyrus, the predicted restorer of Jerusalem, of the cities of Judah, and of the temple, is now followed by a second strophe (Isaiah 45:1-8), having for its subject Cyrus, the man through whose irresistible career of conquest the heathen would be brought to recognise the power of Jehovah, so that heavenly blessings would come down upon the earth. The naming of the great shepherd of the nations, and the address of him, are continued in Isaiah 45:1-3 : "Thus saith Jehovah to His anointed, to Koresh, whom I have taken by his right hand to subdue nations before him; and the loins of kings I ungird, to open before him doors and gates, that they may not continue shut. I shall go before thee, and level what is heaped up: gates of brass shall I break in pieces, and bolts of iron shall I smite to the ground. And I shall give thee treasures of darkness, and jewels of hidden places, that thou mayest know that I Jehovah am He who called out thy name, (even) the God of Israel." The words addressed to Cyrus by Jehovah commence in Isaiah 45:2, but promises applying to him force themselves into the introduction, being evoked by the mention of his name. He is the only king of the Gentiles whom Jehovah ever meshı̄chı̄ (my anointed; lxx τῷ χριστῷ μου). The fundamental principle of the politics of the empire of the world was all-absorbing selfishness. But the politics of Cyrus were pervaded by purer motives, and this brought him eternal honour. The very same thing which the spirit of Darius, the father of Xerxes, is represented as saying of him in the Persae of Aeschylus (v. 735), Θεὸς γὰρ οὐκ ἤχθησεν ὡς εὔφρων ἔφυ (for he was not hateful to God, because he was well-disposed), is here said by the Spirit of revelation, which by no means regards the virtues of the heathen as splendida vitia. Jehovah has taken him by his right hand, to accomplish great things through him while supporting him thus. (On the inf. rad for rōd, from râdad, to tread down, see Ges. 67, Anm. 3.) The dual delâthaim has also a plural force: "double doors" (fores) in great number, viz., those of palaces. After the two infinitives, the verb passes into the finite tense: "loins of kings I ungird" (discingo; pittēăch, which refers primarily to the loosening of a fastened garment, is equivalent to depriving of strength). The gates - namely, those of the cities which he storms - will not be shut, sc. in perpetuity, that is to say, they will have to open to him. Jerome refers here to the account given of the elder Cyrus in Xenophon's Cyropaedia. A general picture may no doubt be obtained from this of his success in war; but particular statements need support from other quarters, since it is only a historical romance. Instead of אושׁר (אושׁר)? in Isaiah 45:2, the keri has אישּׁר; just as in Psalm 5:9 it has הישׁר instead of הושׁר. A hiphil הושׁיר cannot really be shown to have existed, and the abbreviated future form עושׁר would be altogether without ground or object here. הדּורים (tumida; like נעיימם, amaena, and others) is meant to refer to the difficulties piled up in the conqueror's way. The "gates of brass' (nedhūshâh, brazen, poetical for nechōsheth, brass, as in the derivative passage, Psalm 107:16) and "bolts of iron" remind one more especially of Babylon with its hundred "brazen gates," the very posts and lintels of which were also of brass (Herod. i. 179); and the treasures laid up in deep darkness and jewels preserved in hiding-places, of the riches of Babylon (Jeremiah 50:37; Jeremiah 51:13), and especially of those of the Lydian Sardes, "the richest city of Asia after Babylon" (Cyrop. vii. 2, 11), which Cyrus conquered first. On the treasures which Cyrus acquired through his conquests, and to which allusion is made in the Persae of Aeschylus, v. 327 ("O Persian, land and harbour of many riches thou"), see Plin. h. n. xxxiii. 2. Brerewood estimates the quantity of gold and silver mentioned there as captured by him at no less than 126,224,000 sterling. And all this success is given to him by Jehovah, that he may know that it is Jehovah the God of Israel who has called out with his name, i.e., called out his name, or called him to be what he is, and as what he shows himself to be.
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