Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Anointed, often implies one chosen for some great work. Cyrus was to ruin the empire of Babylon, and to set the nations at liberty. He was a proof of the Deity by executing his decrees. — Cyrus. Some copies of the Septuagint seem to have read kurio, “to the Lord,” incorrectly. (St. Jerome) — Though Cyrus was not anointed, he is styled thus, in allusion to the custom of the Jewish kings. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Brass. Babylon had 100 such gates. (Herodotus i. 179.)
Ver. 3. Treasures. See Pliny, [Natural History?] xxxiii. 3. He overcame the rich king of Lydia, &c.
Ver. 4. Likeness of Christ. — Known me. Before the Jews had shewn Cyrus the prophecies, he did not attribute his success to the Lord, and even afterwards he seems not to have left the superstitions of his country, as his sacrifices to idols are described. He resembled Nabuchodonosor and the philosophers, who did not glorify God according to their knowledge, Daniel ii. 47., and Romans i. 21. Cyrus even revoked the decree for building the temple, 1 Esdras iv. 5. (Calmet) — He believed there was one God; (1 Esdras i.) yet he did not embrace the truth entirely. (Worthington)
Ver. 7. Create evil, &c. The evils of afflictions and punishments, but not the evil of sin. (Challoner) — I afflict and comfort my people.
Ver. 8. Saviour. Thus the ancient saints thirsted for the coming of Christ. His figure is styled the just, chap. xli. 2, 25. — Him. Christ, born of the virgin, in time, and of God from all eternity. I have appointed Cyrus to be his precursor, to set the captives free. (Calmet) — He has been spoken of before. But now the prophet turns to Christ alone, who built his Church on a rock. (Worthington) — Cyrus had not a right faith in God, and Zorobabel was himself set free, and was not king. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 9. Earthen. Literally, “Samian.” (Haydock) — Samos was famous for its pottery. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxxv. 12.) Hebrew, “Clay, disputest thou against the potters of the earth?” He shews the folly of idols, after having proved his own divinity. (Calmet) — Protestants, “Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth.” (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Forth. As such language would be improper to parents, so it is wrong to complain that God places us in any situation. (Menochius)
Ver. 11. To me. Ask what will come to pass, or direct me how to act.
Ver. 13. Justice. Cyrus shall punish the Chaldeans and restore the Jews. (Calmet) — The prophet returns to him after having mentioned a greater Saviour, ver. 8. (Houbigant)
Ver. 14. Stature: the people of Saba were the tallest and best proportioned in Arabia. (Agathar. v. 50.) — Cyrus possessed all these countries. He sent the Egyptians home in the third year of his reign, at Babylon, the year of the world 3470, Ezechiel xxix. 11. They never became subject to the Jews; but embraced the religion of Christ, acknowledging him for God, ver. 15. (Calmet) — Besides thee. Protestants, “Surely God is in thee, and there is none else, there is no God.” Those whom we have hitherto adored, deserve not the name. Vulgate and Septuagint make the people address Christ, the God-man. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Saviour. We confess that thou hast delivered the Jews; or rather, we acknowledge that thou, O Christ, art true God under the veils of thy human nature, and Saviour of all. Cyrus was only a feeble representation of thee.
Ver. 16. Confusion. Idolaters shall be confounded, when they shall behold the glory of the elect.
Ver. 18. In vain. Hebrew, “to be a chaos,” Genesis viii. 2.
Ver. 19. Earth. The pagan oracles were given chiefly in mountains, where the impostures of the priests might escape detection. They were also generally ambiguous, or mere guesses. The declarations of the true prophets were quite the reverse. — In vain; without reward. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Gentiles: converts, (Haydock) or Jews, returning from Babylon.
Ver. 21. Me. He transports his auditors to the times succeeding the captivity, when the completion of the prophecies will be evident.
Ver. 23-24. Myself, having none greater, Hebrews vi. 13. — Justice: sure. — To me. All that are born belong to me. The Jewish women had seldom recourse to midwives, (Exodus i. 19., and 1 Kings iv. 19.; Calmet) no more than the Ethiopians. (Ludolf. i. 14.) — Swear, by the true God. (Haydock) — Oaths on proper occasions, honour him, Deuteronomy vi. 13. Nothing could be spoken more plainly of the Gentiles’ conversion.
Ver. 25. Empire. Cyrus shall make this confession, (1 Esdras i. 2.) and all who embrace the religion of Christ, shall attribute all their virtue to him.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
A prophecy of Cyrus, as a figure of Christ, the great deliverer of God’s people.
1 Thus saith the Lord to my anointed Cyrus, whose right hand I have taken hold of, to subdue nations before his face, and to turn the backs of kings, and to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut.
2 I will go before thee, and will humble the great ones of the earth: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and will burst the bars of iron.
3 And I will give thee hidden treasures, and the concealed riches of secret places: that thou mayst know that I am the Lord who called thee by thy name, the God of Israel.
4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have made a likeness of thee, and thou hast not known me.
5 I am the Lord, and there is none else: there is no God, besides me: I girded thee, and thou hast not known me:
6 That they may know who are from the rising of the sun, and they who are from the west, that there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
7 I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil: I, the Lord, that do all these things.
8 Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Saviour; and let justice spring up together: I, the Lord, have created him.
9 *Woe to him that gainsayeth his Maker, a sherd of the earthen pots: shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it: What art thou making, and thy work is without hands?
10 Woe to him that saith to his father: Why begettest thou: and to the woman: Why dost thou bring forth?
11 Thus saith the Lord, the holy One of Israel, his Maker: Ask me of things to come concerning my children, and concerning the work of my hands give ye charge to me.
12 I made the earth: and I created man upon it: my hand stretched forth the heavens, and I have commanded all their host.
13 I have raised him up to justice, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and let go my captives, not for ransom, nor for presents, saith the Lord, the God of hosts.
14 Thus saith the Lord: The labour of Egypt, and the merchandise of Ethiopia, and of Sabaim, men of stature shall come over to thee, and shall be thine: they shall walk after thee, they shall go bound with manacles: and they shall worship thee, and shall make supplication to thee: only in thee is God, and there is no God besides thee.
15 Verily, thou art a hidden God, the God of Israel, the Saviour.
16 They are all confounded and ashamed: the forgers of errors are gone together into confusion.
17 Israel is saved in the Lord with an eternal salvation: you shall not be confounded, and you shall not be ashamed for ever and ever.
18 For thus saith the Lord, that created the heavens, God himself, that formed the earth, and made it, the very maker thereof: he did not create it in vain: he formed it to be inhabited. I am the Lord, and there is no other.
19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I have not said to the seed of Jacob: Seek me in vain. I am the Lord, that speak justice, that declare right things.
20 Assemble yourselves, and come, and draw near together, ye that are saved of the Gentiles: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven work, and pray to a god that cannot save.
21 Tell ye, and come, and consult together: who hath declared this from the beginning, who hath foretold this from that time? Have not I, the Lord, and there is no God else besides me? A just God, and a Saviour, there is none besides me.
22 Be converted to me, and you shall be saved, all ye ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is no other.
23 I have sworn by myself, the word of justice shall go out of my mouth, and shall not return:
24 *For every knee shall be bowed to me, and every tongue shall swear.
25 Therefore shall he say: In the Lord are my justices and empire: they shall come to him, and all that resist him shall be confounded.
26 In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and praised.
9: Jeremias xviii. 6.; Romans ix. 20.
24: Romans xiv. 11.; Philippians ii. 10.