Isaiah 46:11
Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executes my counsel from a far country: yes, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
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(11) Calling a ravenous bird.—Cyrus is thus described as Nebuchadnezzar is in Jeremiah 49:22; Ezekiel 17:3. The image derives a special significance from the fact that the standard borne by Cyrus and his successors was a golden eagle (Xen., Cyrop. vii. 1. 4; Anab. i. 10, 12). (Comp. also Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37.) The “sun-rising” is, of course, Persia; the far country” probably represents Media.

I have spoken.—The word of Jehovah passes, unlike that of the false gods, into a certain and immediate act.

46:5-13 Here the folly of those who made idols, and then prayed to them, is exposed. How does the profuseness of idolaters shame the niggardliness of many who call themselves God's servants, but are for a religion which costs them nothing! The service of sin always costs a great deal. God puts it to them what senseless, helpless things idols are. Let, then, the Jews show themselves men, avoiding such abominations. Many Scripture prophecies, delivered long ago, are not yet fulfilled; but the fulfilling of some is an earnest that the rest will come to pass. Nothing can help more to make us easy, than to be assured that God will do all his pleasure. Even those who know not and mind not God's revealed will, are called and used to fulfil the counsels of his secret will. Heaven and earth shall pass away, sooner than one tittle of the word of God. Obstinate sinners are addressed. Such were far from acceptance, but they were summoned to hearken to the word of the Lord. The salvation of a sinner begins with a humble and contrite heart, that trembles at God's word, with godly sorrow working true repentance, and faith in his mercy, through the obedience unto death of our Divine Surety. Christ, as the Divine righteousness and salvation to his people, would come in the appointed time. His salvation abides in his church for all believers.Calling a ravenous bird from the east - There can be no doubt that Cyrus is intended here (see the notes at Isaiah 41:2, Isaiah 41:25). The east here means Persia. The word rendered 'ravenous bird' (עיט ‛ayiṭ) is rendered 'fowl' in Job 28:7; 'bird' or 'birds' in Jeremiah 12:9; 'fowls' in Genesis 15:11; Isaiah 18:6; and 'ravenous birds' in Ezekiel 39:4. It does not occur elsewhere in the Bible. It is used here as an emblem of a warlike king, and the emblem may either denote the rapidity of his movements - moving with the flight of an eagle; or it may denote the devastation which he would spread - an emblem in either sense especially applicable to Cyrus. It is not uncommon in the Bible to compare a warlike prince to an eagle Jeremiah 49:22; Ezekiel 17:3; and the idea here is, probably, that Cyrus would come with great power and velocity upon nations, like the king of birds, and would pounce suddenly and unexpectedly upon his prey. Perhaps also there may be here allusion to the standard or banner of Cyrus. Xenophon (Cyrop. vii.) says that it was a golden eagle affixed to a long spear; and it is well remarked by Lowth, that Xenophon has used the very word which the prophet uses here, as near as could be, expressing it in Greek letters. The word of the prophet is עיט ‛ayiṭ; the Greek word used by Xenophon is ἀετὸς aetos. The Chaldee has, however, given a different rendering to this passage: 'I, who say that I will gather my captivity from the east, and will lead publicly like a swift bird from a distant land the sons of Abraham, my friend.'

The man that executeth my counsel - Margin, as Hebrew, 'Of my counsel.' It may either mean the man whom he had designated by his counsel; or it may mean the man who should execute his purpose.

Yea, I have spoken - He spake it by the prophets; and the idea is, that all that he had spoken should be certainly accomplished.

11. ravenous bird—Cyrus so called on account of the rapidity of his marches from the distant regions of Persia to pounce on his prey (see on [820]Isa 41:2; [821]Isa 41:25; [822]Jer 49:22; [823]Eze 17:3). The standard of Cyrus, too, was a golden eagle on a spear (see the heathen historian, Xenophon, 7, where almost the same word is used, aetos, as here, ayit).

executeth my counsel—(Isa 44:28; 45:13). Babylon represents, mystically, the apostate faction: the destruction of its idols symbolizes the future general extirpation of all idolatry and unbelief.

purposed … also do it—(Isa 43:13).

Calling a ravenous bird; Cyrus, called a bird for his swiftness and great expedition, and ravenous for his fierceness and victoriousness over his enemies.

From the east; from Persia, as Isaiah 41:2.

That executeth my counsel, concerning the deliverance of my people, and the destruction of their cruel oppressors, the Babylonians.

From a far country; from Persia, which was far from Babylon, but much farther from Judea. Calling a ravenous bird from the east,.... Or "a flying fowl", or "swift winged bird" (u); for the word used does not so much denote rapaciousness as swiftness; which well agrees with Cyrus, who is here meant, and not Abraham, as Jarchi, nor Nebuchadnezzar, as others; and who was always swift in all his expeditions, and always recommended celerity and dispatch of business to his soldiers and others, as Xenophon (w) often observes; and very remarkable is that speech of Tigranes to him, in which he tells him (x), that he so far exceeded the king of Armenia in swiftness, that he came upon him with a great army, from a far country, before he could get his army together, which was just by him. And very observable are the words of Cyrus himself, who was desirous of being a thorough horseman, that he might seem to be , "a winged" or "flying man" (y) So the Targum here renders it, a swift bird. Aben Ezra, who interprets it of Cyrus, says he is so called, as if he flew to do the will of God; and Kimchi observes of Cyrus, that he has this name because he came swiftly, and in haste, as a bird that flies: and it is no unusual thing for a mighty monarch, or a general, marching with his army, to be compared to a flying bird, particularly an eagle, Jeremiah 48:40 and may be the bird intended here, which well suits with Cyrus, who had, as Plutarch (z) reports, an aquiline nose; hence men that have such noses, among the Persians, are highly esteemed: and Xenophon (a) says, that the standard of Cyrus was a golden eagle upon the top of a high spear, and which is retained by the kings of Persia. Cyrus is said to be called from the east, because, as Kimchi observes, his country lay to the east of Babylon:

the man that executeth my counsel from afar country; as Persia was from Babylon, Assyria and other provinces lying between; but though he lived in a far country, and knew nothing of the affairs of the people of God in Babylon, or what work he was to do, yet God called him, and brought him to do his will, which he was ignorant of: so God sometimes puts into the hearts of men to fulfil his will, which they are strangers to, Revelation 17:17. It is in the Hebrew text, "the man of my counsel" (b); not with whom the Lord consulted, for none are of his counsel in this sense; but whom in his counsels, decrees, and purposes, he appointed to such service, and whom he made use of as an instrument to do his pleasure; see Isaiah 44:8.

yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass: I have purposed, I will also do it; the counsel of the Lord, concerning the deliverance of his people from Babylon, by the hand of Cyrus; this he had purposed in his own breast, had spoken of in prophecy, and would certainly perform. R. Joseph Kimchi interprets this verse of the Messiah, and so does Jerom, of whom, no doubt, Cyrus was a type; and what is here said agrees with him: he may be compared to a flying bird for his swiftness in coming at the appointed time; he came from the east, as the rising sun of righteousness; he was the man of God's counsel in the highest sense, and came, being called, to execute it; the work of redemption was according to the eternal purpose of God, and spoke of by all the holy prophets, and now accomplished; and his righteousness and salvation are made mention of in the following verses.

(u) "avem, a velocitate", Munster; so Vatablus; ab "in volando celeriter et cum impetu", Forerius; so Ben Melech says, Cyrus is surnamed a fowl, because of his great swiftness and haste to come to Babylon; though he observes that some say, that a ravenous fowl is called the singular may be put for the plural; so Cocceius renders it, "volucres", birds, and may design the whole army of Cyrus. (w) Cyropaedia, l. 1. c. 17. and l. 3. c. 6. and l. 6. c. 17. (x) Cyropaedia, l. 3. c. 2.((y) Ib. l. 4. c. 17. (z) In Apothegm. (a) Cyropaedia, l. 7. c. 1.((b) "virum mei consilii", Munster, Pagninus, Montanus; so according to the Keri: but the Cetib is , "the man of his counsel".

Calling a ravenous {i} bird from the east, the man that executeth my {k} counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also perform it.

(i) That is, Cyrus, who will come as swift as a bird and fight against Babylon.

(k) Him by whom I have appointed to execute that which I have determined.

11. The supreme illustration of the foreknowledge and power of Jehovah is the raising up of Cyrus. Cyrus is compared to a ravenous bird on account of the celerity of his movements (ch. Isaiah 41:3), just as Nebuchadnezzar had been likened to an eagle (Jeremiah 49:22; Ezekiel 17:3). There can hardly be an allusion to the fact (if it be a fact) that the royal ensign of Persia was a golden eagle (Xenophon, Cyrop. vii. 1, 4).

from the east] Isaiah 41:2; Isaiah 41:25.

the man that executeth my counsel] Lit. as R.V. the man of my counsel (the consonantal text has “his counsel”). Not of course “my counsellor” (as in Isaiah 40:13), but in the sense expressed by the A.V.

I have purposed] Lit. I have formed, i.e. “foreordained,” as in ch. Isaiah 22:11, Isaiah 37:26.Verse 11. - Calling a ravenous bird; rather, a bird of prey. The imagery is quite natural, and exactly parallel to that by which Nebuchadnezzar is termed "an eagle," both by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:22) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:3). There is no need to suppose any allusion to the fact, if fact it be, that the Persians from the time of Cyrus had for a standard a golden eagle, with wings outspread, on the top of a spear-shaft (Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 7:1, § 4; 'Anab.,' 1:10, § 12). From the east (comp. Isaiah 41:2, 25). Both Persia and Susiana, which were the primary seats of the power of Cyrus, lay to the east of Babylon, the latter due east, the former somewhat to the south-east. Even Media might, according to Hebrew usage, be described as east, though lying almost due north-east. From this approaching reduction of the gods of Babylon to their original nothingness, several admonitions are now derived. The first admonition is addressed to all Israel. "Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel: ye, lifted up from the womb; ye, carried from the mother's lap! And till old age it is I, and to grey hair I shall bear you on my shoulder: I have done it, and I shall carry; and I put upon my shoulder, and deliver. To whom can ye compare me, and liken, and place side by side, that we should be equal?" The house of Jacob is Judah here, as in Obadiah 1:18 (see Caspari on the passage), Nahum 2:3, and the house of Israel the same as the house of Joseph in Obadiah; whereas in Amos 3:13; Amos 6:8; Amos 7:2, Jacob stands for Israel, in distinction from Judah. The Assyrian exile was earlier than the Babylonian, and had already naturalized the greater part of the exiles in a heathen land, and robbed them of their natural character, so that there was only a remnant left by whom there was any hope that the prophet's message would be received. What the exiles of both houses were to hear was the question in Isaiah 46:5, which called upon them to consider the incomparable nature of their God, as deduced from what Jehovah could say of Himself in relation to all Israel, and what He does say from העמסים onwards. Babylon carried its idols, but all in vain: they were carried forth, without being able to save themselves; but Jehovah carried His people, and saved them. The expressions, "from the womb, and from the mother's lap," point back to the time when the nation which had been in process of formation from the time of Abraham onwards came out of Egypt, and was born, as it were, into the light of the world. From this time forward it had lain upon Jehovah like a willingly adopted burden, and He had carried it as a nurse carries a suckling (Numbers 11:12), and an eagle its young (Deuteronomy 32:11). In Isaiah 46:4 the attributes of the people are carried on in direct (not relative) self-assertions on the part of Jehovah. The senectus and canities are obviously those of the people - not, however, as though it was already in a state of dotage (as Hitzig maintains, appealing erroneously to Isaiah 47:6), but as denoting the future and latest periods of its history. Even till then Jehovah is He, i.e., the Absolute, and always the same (see Isaiah 41:4). As He has acted in the past, so will He act at all times - supporting and saving His people. Hence He could properly ask, Whom could you place by the side of me, so that we should be equal? (Vav consec. as in Isaiah 40:25).
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