1Thus says the Lord to his anointed,#Anointed: in Hebrew, mashiah, from which the word “Messiah” is derived; from its Greek translation, Christos, we have the title “Christ.” Applied to kings, “anointed” originally referred only to those of Israel, but it is here given to Cyrus because he is the agent of the Lord. Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
Subduing nations before him,
stripping kings of their strength,
Opening doors before him,
leaving the gates unbarred:
2I will go before you
and level the mountains;
Bronze doors#Bronze doors: those defending the city gates of Babylon. I will shatter,
iron bars I will snap.#Ps 107:16.
3I will give you treasures of darkness,
riches hidden away,
That you may know I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who calls you by name.
4For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
of Israel my chosen one,
I have called you by name,
giving you a title, though you do not know me.#Is 40:26; 44:5.
5I am the Lord, there is no other,
there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you do not know me,
6so that all may know, from the rising of the sun
to its setting, that there is none besides me.#The nations will come to know that Israel’s God is the only God; cf. also vv. 20–25.
I am the Lord, there is no other.
7I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make weal and create woe;#Create woe: God created and controls all aspects of creation (light and darkness, order and chaos).
I, the Lord, do all these things.
8Let justice descend, you heavens, like dew from above,
like gentle rain let the clouds drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
let righteousness spring up with them!#The Vulgate rendering gave a messianic sense to this verse, using “just one” and “savior” in place of “justice” and “salvation,” phraseology taken over in the Advent liturgy, e.g., the “Rorate coeli.”
I, the Lord, have created this.#Ps 72:6; 85:11.
9Woe to anyone who contends with their Maker;#Jer 18:6; Rom 9:20.
a potsherd among potsherds of the earth!#No one may challenge God’s freedom of action, exemplified here by the selection of Cyrus as his anointed.
Shall the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?”
or, “What you are making has no handles”?
10Woe to anyone who asks a father, “What are you begetting?”
or a woman, “What are you giving birth to?”
11Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, his maker:
Do you question me about my children,
tell me how to treat the work of my hands?
12It was I who made the earth
and created the people upon it;
It was my hands that stretched out the heavens;
I gave the order to all their host.
13It was I who stirred him#Him: Cyrus, called by God for the deliverance and restoration of Israel. Justice: the Hebrew word (sedeq) has multiple connotations; here it relates to the saving victory that the Lord will give to Cyrus for the deliverance of his people Israel. This word and others from the same root frequently have this connotation in Second Isaiah, occurring as a parallel term with “deliverance,” “salvation,” etc. Cf. its use in 41:10 (rendered “victorious”) and 51:5 (rendered “victory”). up for justice;
all his ways I make level.
He shall rebuild my city
and let my exiles go free
Without price or payment,
says the Lord of hosts.
14Thus says the Lord:
The earnings of Egypt, the gain of Ethiopia,
and the Sabeans,#Egypt
Sabeans: the Egyptians and their allies who, when conquered by Cyrus, are seen as acknowledging the God of Israel; cf. 43:3. tall of stature,
Shall come over to you and belong to you;
they shall follow you, coming in chains.
Before you they shall bow down,
saying in prayer:
“With you alone is God; and there is none other,
no other god!#Is 43:3.
15Truly with you God is hidden,#God is hidden: i.e., the one known only to Israel, who cannot be represented by wooden or molten images. The concept of the “Deus absconditus,” “the hidden God,” becomes an important theme in later theology.
the God of Israel, the savior!#Is 55:8; Prv 25:2.
16They are put to shame and disgrace, all of them;
they go in disgrace who carve images.
17Israel has been saved by the Lord,
You shall never be put to shame or disgrace
in any future age.”
18For thus says the Lord,
The creator of the heavens,
who is God,
The designer and maker of the earth
who established it,
Not as an empty waste#Empty waste: an allusion to Gn 1:2, where the earth is waste and void; the same Hebrew word, tohu, is used in both passages. Here it points to devastated Judah and Jerusalem, where God wishes to resettle the returning exiles. did he create it,
but designing it to be lived in:
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
19I have not spoken in secret
from some place in the land of darkness,
I have not said to the descendants of Jacob,
“Look for me in an empty waste.”
I, the Lord, promise justice,
I declare what is right.
20Come and assemble, gather together,
you fugitives from among the nations!
They are without knowledge who bear wooden idols#Who bear wooden idols: in their religious processions. Such gods have feet but cannot walk; cf. Ps 115:7; Bar 6:25.
and pray to gods that cannot save.
21Come close and declare;
let them take counsel together:
Who announced this from the beginning,
declared it from of old?
Was it not I, the Lord,
besides whom there is no other God?
There is no just and saving God but me.
22Turn to me and be safe,
all you ends of the earth,
for I am God; there is no other!
23By myself I swear,
uttering my just decree,
a word that will not return:
To me every knee shall bend;
by me every tongue shall swear,#Rom 14:11; Phil 2:10.
24Saying, “Only in the Lord
are just deeds and power.
Before him in shame shall come
all who vent their anger against him.
25In the Lord all the descendants of Israel
shall have vindication and glory.”