Isaiah 45:4
For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel my elect, I have even called you by your name: I have surnamed you, though you have not known me.
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(4) For Jacob my servant . . .—The words “servant” and “elect” show that the prophet speaks of the ideal Israel, the true Ecclesia, rather than of the nation as such outwardly, though this also, as including the other, shared in the outward blessings of the election. Essentially, the words declare that the world’s history is ordered with a view to the true Eeclesia.

Called thee by thy name.—Either as predicting the actual name of Koresh, or as giving the titles of “Messiah” and “shepherd.” The surname clearly refers to these.

Though thou hast not known me.—Better, when thou didst not know me, either as referring to a time prior to the recognition by Cyrus of Jehovah as the God of heaven (Ezra 1:1-2), or, possibly, prior to his birth (comp. Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5).

Isaiah 45:4-6. For Jacob my servant’s sake, &c. — The prophet here gives us the reasons why God showed such favour to a prince, who had been addicted to the superstition of his country, and ignorant of the true God, that he prospered all his undertakings, and gave success to all his endeavours. It was, 1st, For Israel’s sake: For Israel, mine elect, I have even called thee, &c. — I have called thee to this honour, and that by name; not for thy own sake, but for Israel’s sake: therefore, neither despise them, though a poor and despised people, nor be puffed up in a great opinion of thyself. I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me — I knew and called thee, when thou didst neither know nor think of me; nay, when thou hadst no being. I girded thee, &c. — I made thee strong and active, and fitted and disposed thee for these great and warlike enterprises. It was, 2d, For the sake of all nations; that they might be convinced of the true divinity and almighty power of the God of Israel. That they may know from the rising of the sun, &c., that I am the Lord, &c. — That all nations may know it by my foretelling these things so long before, and by the wonderful success that I shall give thee, and by my overruling thy heart and counsels, to the deliverance of my people. Or, as Lowth explains it, “My interposing so visibly in behalf of my own people, and returning their captivity by such unexpected means, will convince the heathen part of the world that I am the only 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.For Jacob my servant's sake - (see the note at Isaiah 42:19). The statement here is, that God had raised up Cyrus on account of his own people. The sentiment is common in the Bible, that kings and nations are in the hand of God; and that he overrules and directs their actions for the accomplishment of his own purposes, and especially to protect, defend, and deliver his people (see the note at Isaiah 10:5; compare Isaiah 47:6).

I have surnamed thee - On the meaning of the word 'surname,' see the notes at Isaiah 44:5. The reference here is to the fact that he had appointed him to accomplish important purposes, and had designated him as his 'shepherd' Isaiah 44:28, and his 'anointed' Isaiah 45:1.

Though thou hast not known me - Before he was called to accomplish these important services, he was a stranger to Yahweh, and it was only when he should have been so signally favored of heaven, and should be made acquainted with the divine will in regard to the deliverance of his people and the rebuilding of the temple Ezra 1:1-3, that he would be acquainted with the true God.

4. (See on [799]Isa 41:8; [800]Isa 43:14).

surnamed—that is, designated to carry out My design of restoring Judah (see on [801]Isa 44:5; [802]Isa 44:28; [803]Isa 45:1). Maurer here, as in Isa 44:5, translates, "I have addressed thee by an honorable name."

hast not known me—previous to My calling thee to this office; after God's call, Cyrus did know Him in some degree (Ezr 1:1-3).

I have even called thee by thy name; I have called thee to this honour, and that by name; not for thy sake, but for Israel’s sake; therefore do not despise them, thou wilt find them a poor and enslaved people, neither be puffed up into a great opinion of thyself.

I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me; I knew and called thee by thy name, when thou didst neither know nor think of me; nay, when thou hadst no being. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name,.... Not so much for the sake of Cyrus, and to do honour to him, was it that he so long before he was born called him by his name; but to assure the people of the Jews, the Lord's chosen people, and who were his servants, of the certainty of their deliverance, their deliverer being mentioned by name; and it was for their sakes, and not his, that he called him, and raised him up to do such great things as he did, that he might deliver them from their captivity: and it is for the sake of God's elect, whom he has chosen to holiness and happiness, to serve him, and be with him for ever, that he has called Christ, of whom Cyrus was a type, and sent him into the world, to be the Saviour and Redeemer of them:

I have surnamed thee; not only called him by his name, Cyrus, but surnamed him his "shepherd", and "his anointed", Isaiah 44:28,

though thou hast not known me; as yet not being born; and when he was, and was grown up, he was ignorant of the true God; and though, upon sight of the above prophecy, and under an immediate influence and impression, he acknowledged the God of Israel to be the God of heaven yet it does not appear that he left the Pagan idolatry; for Xenophon (k) relates, that when he found his end was near, he took sacrifices, and offered them to Jupiter, and the sun, and the rest of the gods; and gave them thanks for the care they had taken of him; and prayed them to grant happiness to his wife, children, friends, and country.

(k) Cyropaedia, l. 8. c. 45.

For Jacob my servant's {f} sake, and Israel my elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.

(f) Not for anything that is in you, or for your worthiness.

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.Verse 4. - For Jacob my servant's sake. This second motive is, in a certain sense, the main one. Cyrus is raised up, especially, to perform God's pleasure with respect to Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 44:26-28). Jacob, his Church, is more important in God's eyes than any individual. No doubt his Church is maintained, in part, that it may be "a light to lighten the Gentiles;" but it is not maintained solely: or even mainly, for this end. Its welfare is an end in itself, and would be sought by God apart from any further consequence. Israel mine elect (comp. Isaiah 41:8; Isaiah 44:1). I have surnamed thee; i.e. "given thee designations of honour," e.g. "my anointed" (ver. 1); "my shepherd" (Isaiah 44:28); "he who shall do all my pleasure" (Isaiah 44:28). Though thou hast not known me; rather, though thou didst not know me. Cyrus's honours, his titles, his mention by name, etc., were accumulated upon him before his birth, when he knew nothing of God, when, therefore, he had in no way merited them. Thus all was done, not for his sake, but lot the sake of Israel. 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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