Isaiah 45:2
I will go before you, 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). The promise takes a new turn here, acquiring greater and greater speciality. It is introduced as the word of Jehovah, who first gave existence to Israel, and has not let it go to ruin. "Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I Jehovah am He that accomplisheth all; who stretched out the heavens alone, spread out the earth by Himself; who bringeth to nought the signs of the prophets of lies, and exposeth the soothsayers as raging mad; who turneth back the wise men, and maketh their science folly; who realizeth the word of His servant, and accomplisheth the prediction of His messengers; who saith to Jerusalem, She shall be inhabited! and to the cities of Judah, They shall be built, and their ruins I raise up again! who saith to the whirlpool, Dry up; and I dry its streams! who saith to Koresh, My shepherd and he will perform all my will; and will say to Jerusalem, She shall be built, and the temple founded!" The prophecy which commences with Isaiah 44:24 is carried on through this group of vv. in a series of participial predicates to אנכי (I) Jehovah is ‛ōseh kōl, accomplishing all (perficiens omnia), so that there is nothing that is not traceable to His might and wisdom as the first cause. It was He who alone, without the co-operation of any other being, stretched out the heavens, who made the earth into a wide plain by Himself, i.e., so that it proceeded from Himself alone: מאתּי, as in Joshua 11:20 (compare מני, Isaiah 30:1; and mimmennı̄ in Hosea 8:4), chethib אתּי מי, "who was with me," or "who is it beside me?" The Targum follows the keri; the Septuagint the chethib, attaching it to the following words, τίς ἕτερος διασκεδάσει. Isaiah 44:25 passes on from Him whom creation proves to be God, to Him who is proving Himself to be so in history also, and that with obvious reference to the Chaldean soothsayers and wise men (Isaiah 47:9-10), who held out to proud Babylon the most splendid and hopeful prognostics. "Who brings to nought (mēphēr, opp. mēqı̄m) the signs," i.e., the marvellous proofs of their divine mission which the false prophets adduced by means of fraud and witchcraft. The lxx render baddı̄m, ἐγγαστριμύθων, Targ. bı̄dı̄n (in other passages equals 'ōb, Leviticus 20:27; 'ōbōth, Leviticus 19:31; hence equals πύθων πύθωνες). At Isaiah 16:6 and Job 11:3 we have derived it as a common noun from בּדה equals בּטא, to speak at random; but it is possible that בּדה may originally have signified to produce or bring forth, without any reference to βαττολογεῖν, then to invent, to fabricate, so that baddı̄m as a personal name (as in Jeremiah 50:36) would be synonymous with baddâ'ı̄m, mendaces. On qōsemı̄m, see Isaiah 3:2; on yehōlēl, (Job 12:17, where it occurs in connection with a similar predicative description of God according to His works.

In Isaiah 44:26 a contrast is draw between the heathen soothsayers and wise men, and the servant and messengers of Jehovah, whose word, whose ‛ētsâh, i.e., determination or disclosure concerning the future (cf., yâ‛ats, Isaiah 41:28), he realizes and perfectly fulfils. By "his servant" we are to understand Israel itself, according to Isaiah 42:19, but only relatively, namely, as the bearer of the prophetic word, and therefore as the kernel of Israel regarded from the standpoint of the prophetic mission which it performed; and consequently "his messengers" are the prophets of Jehovah who were called out of Israel. The singular "his servant" is expanded in "his messenger" into the plurality embraced in the one idea. This is far more probable than that the author of these prophetic words, who only speaks of himself in a roundabout manner even in Isaiah 40:6, should here refer directly to himself (according to Isaiah 20:3). In Isaiah 44:26 the predicates become special prophecies, and hence their outward limits are also defined. As we have תּוּשׁב and not תּוּשׁבי, we must adopt the rendering habitetur and oedificentur, with which the continuation of the latter et vastata ejus erigam agrees. In Isaiah 44:27 the prophecy moves back from the restoration of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah to the conquest of Babylon. The expression calls to mind the drying up of the Red Sea (Isaiah 51:10; Isaiah 43:16); but here it relates to something future, according to Isaiah 42:15; Isaiah 50:2 -namely, to the drying up of the Euphrates, which Cyrus turned into the enlarged basin of Sepharvaim, so that the water sank to the depth of a single foot, and men could "go through on foot" (Herod. i. 191). But in the complex view of the prophet, the possibility of the conqueror's crossing involved the possibility or the exiles' departing from the prison of the imperial city, which was surrounded by a natural and artificial line of waters (Isaiah 11:15). צוּלה (from צוּל equals צלל, to whiz or whirl) refers to the Euphrates, just as metsūlâh in Job 41:23; Zechariah 10:11, does to the Nile; נתרריה is used in the same sense as the Homeric ̓Ωοκεάνοιο ῥέεθρα. In Isaiah 44:28 the special character of the promise reaches its highest shoot. The deliverer of Israel is mentioned by name: "That saith to Koresh, My shepherd (i.e., a ποιμὴν λαῶν appointed by me), and he who performs all my will" (chēphets, θέλημα, not in the generalized sense of πρᾶγμα), and that inasmuch as he (Cyrus) saith to (or of) Jerusalem, It shall be built (tibbâneh, not the second pers. tibbânı̄), and the foundation of the temple laid (hēkhâl a masculine elsewhere, here a feminine). This is the passage which is said by Josephus to have induced Cyrus to send back the Jews to their native land: "Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfil what was so written" (Jos. Ant. xi. 2). According to Ctesias and others, the name of Cyrus signifies the sun.But all that can really be affirmed is, that it sounds like the name of the sun. For in Neo-Pers. the sun is called char, in Zendic hvarĕ (karĕ), and from this proper names are formed, such as chars'ı̂d (Sunshine, also the Sun); but Cyrus is called Kuru or Khuru upon the monuments, and this cannot possibly be connected with our chur, which would be uwara in Old Persian (Rawlinson, Lassen, Spiegel), and Kōresh is simply the name of Kuru (Κῦρ-ος) Hebraized after the manner of a segholate. There is a marble-block, for example, in the Murghab valley, not far from the mausoleum of Cyrus, which contained the golden coffin with the body of the king (see Strabo, xv 3, 7); and on this we find an inscription that we also meet with elsewhere, viz., adam. k'ur'us.khsâya thiya.hakhâmanisiya, i.e., I am Kuru the king of the Achaemenides.

(Note: See the engraving of this tomb of Cyrus, which is now called the "Tomb of Solomon's mother," in Vaux's Nineveh and Persepolis (p. 345). On the identity of Murghb and Pasargadae, see Spiegel, Keil-inschriften, pp. 71, 72; and with regard to the discovery of inscriptions that may still be expected around the tomb of Cyrus, the Journal of the Asiatic Society, x. 46, note 4 (also compare Spiegel's Geschichte der Entzifferung der Keil-schrift, im "Ausland," 1865, p. 413).)

This name is identical with the name of the river Kur (Κῦρ-ος); and what Strabo says is worthy of notice - namely, that "there is also a river called Cyrus, which flows through the so-called cave of Persis near Pasargadae, and whence the king took his name, changing it from Agradates into Cyrus" (Strab. xv 3, 6). It is possible also that there may be some connection between the name and the Indian princely title of Kuru.

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