Isaiah 44 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Isaiah 44
Pulpit Commentary
Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
Verses 1-5. - A PROPHECY OF ISRAEL'S SPIRITUAL RECOVERY AND REGENERATION. This section is closely connected with ch. 43, of which it ought to form the conclusion. The prophet cannot bear to leave Israel under a ban - its spiritual guides "profaned," and itself given over to "reproaches." He must end with a brighter prospect. Accordingly, he holds out, in the present passage, the double hope

(1) of the blessing of an abundant outpouring of the Spirit, to take the place of the preceding "curse" (Isaiah 43:28); and

(2) of a pressing of proselytes into the renovated Church, who will hold it in honour, instead of making it the object of their "reproaches." Verse 1. - Yet now hear; i.e. "be not dismayed at what has been said. Listen a little longer." O Jacob my servant, etc. A recurrence to the terms of endearment used in Isaiah 41:8, showing that words of favour and' promise are about to follow.
Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.
Verse 2. - The Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb (see Isaiah 43:1, 7). "From the womb" is added here for increased emphasis. Jesurun. The Lord's people have their proper names - Jacob, Israel, Jesurun, or rather, Jeshurun. "Jacob" marks them simply as descendants of the patriarch - the people to whom the promises were made. "Israel" marks their militant character - that as "God's soldiers" they fought his battles and maintained his cause in the midst of a hostile world. The third name, "Jeshurun," which is very rarely used (only here and in Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 33:5, 26), designates them as "righteous," being a derivative from the root yashar (or joshar), equivalent to "upright," and points to that standard of moral excellence which it was their duty to set forth, and which to some extent they did set forth, in a world that "lay in wickedness." Had they been more worthy of the name, it would probably have been oftener applied to them.
For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
Verse 3. - I will pour water upon him that is thirsty. "Water" is, in Isaiah, the common metaphor for Divine grace. Sometimes, as in this place (and Isaiah 35:6; Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 55:1), the simple maim, "water" or "waters," is the word used. At other times we have instead, or in addition, "rain" (Isaiah 5:6; Isaiah 30:23; Isaiah 55:10), or "dew" (Isaiah 26:19), or "rivers" (Isaiah 30:25; Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 33:21; Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 43:19, etc.), or "streams" (Isaiah 30:25; Isaiah 35:6), or "floods" (as in this place). At his coming on earth, our blessed Lord took up the comparison, and has made it familiar to all men throughout the whole Christian world (see John 3:5; John 4:10, 11, 13-15; John 7:37-39). We may note here that the "water" is only poured on him who is athirst for it. Thy seed... thine offspring. Not "Israel after the flesh" only, but also Israel after the Spirit - the true "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16).
And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
Verse 4. - They shall spring up as among the grass. The LXX. have, "As grass among the waters;" and this reading is followed by Bishop Lowth, Ewald, and Mr. Cheyne. But there does not seem to be any necessity for departing from the existing Hebrew text. As willows. There is some doubt whether the Hebrew word used ('ereb) is rightly translated "willows." The modern yarab seems certainly not to be a "willow," but rather a species of Viburnum (see the long note in Delitzsch's 'Commentary on Isaiah,' vol. 2. pp. 203, 204, Eng. trans.). It is, however, most strictly a water-plant, growing only "near flowing water."
One shall say, I am the LORD'S; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.
Verse 5. - One shall say, I am the Lord's, etc. There shall be an influx of proselytes. Instead of the heathen nations looking scornfully on, and uttering gibes and jeers (Psalm 137:7) at Israel's fall, on seeing Israel's rise they shall be anxious to have a part in it, and shall hasten to enrol themselves among the worshippers of Jehovah. "One shall say, I am Jehovah's," - while "another shall proclaim the name of Jacob," as that in which he glories; and a third "shall write on his hand, (I am) Jehovah's, and take as a surname the name of Israel." It was usual among the heathen nations to mark the name of a god upon the bodies of persons specially devoted to him (Herod., 2:113; 7:235); and, though the practice was forbidden to Israelites (Leviticus 19:28), it might naturally continue in use among semi-heathen proselytes.
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Verses 6-20. - A FURTHER CONTRAST OF GOD WITH IDOLS. The captive Jews, dwelling scattered in a land the inhabitants of which were, one and all, idolaters, and having by hereditary taint an inclination to idolatry, would be easily tempted, during the long and weary period of the Captivity, to put away the worship and even the thought of Jehovah, who had allowed their subjugation, and conform to the religion of their conquerors. Hence the repeated contrasts in these later chapters - specially addressed to caprice Israel - between Jehovah and idols, and the sharp ridicule of the latter (comp. Isaiah 40:18-25; Isaiah 41:4-7, 21-29). Verse 6. - The Lord the King of Israel. Therefore entitled to Israel's allegiance (comp. Isaiah 43:15). And his Redeemer; i.e. Israel's Redeemer - he who had redeemed them from Egyptian bondage - who will redeem them from the power of Babylon - who, best of all, will redeem them from their sins. The First... the Last (comp. Isaiah 41:4, with the comment). Beside me there is no God. This had been distinctly asserted in the Law (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; Deuteronomy 32:39); but Israel could not be induced practically to believe it. The "gods of the nations" were supposed generally to be realities, actual powers, not perhaps so potent as Jehovah, but still real beings, capable of doing good and harm (see Isaiah 41:23). It is one of Isaiah's special objects in these later chapters to disabuse Israel of this notion (see Isaiah 41:21-24; Isaiah 43:9-11; Isaiah 45:5, 6, 14-22, etc.).
And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.
Verse 7. - Who, as I, shall call, etc.? i.e. "Who will do (or who can do) as I do - call events into being, declare them, and set them in order beforehand - who can do this for me (or, in my stead)? No one. I have done it, ever since I appointed (or, placed upon earth) the ancient people" that is, the race of men before the Flood (see Job 22:15). The claim is that, from the first creation of mankind, God has not only prearranged the events that should happen, but has declared them by the mouth of prophets (see Genesis 3:15; Genesis 6:13, 17; Genesis 8:22, 23; 9:12-16, etc.). No other has done the same. The things that are coming, and shall come. Not earlier and later events, but "future events," and "such as will actually come to pass" (Kay, Cheyne). Let the idol-gods declare these, if they are to be entitled to consideration.
Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
Verse 8. - Fear ye not (comp. Isaiah 41:10, 13; Isaiah 43:5; ver. 2). Israel need not fear that they will be forgotten or forsaken. God has told them from that time, or, from the beginning (Isaiah 48:3, 7), and declared to them, what he is about to do - viz, destroy Babylon, and give them deliverance. He will assuredly do as he has said. Ye are even my witnesses (comp. Isaiah 43:10, 12). There is no God; literally, there is no Rock; i.e. no sure ground of trust or confidence (comp. Isaiah 17:10; Isaiah 26:4; Isaiah 30:29; and see the comment on Isaiah 17:10).
They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.
Verses 9-20. - The uniqueness of God having been set forth, the prophet now turns to the images and the image-makers, overwhelming them with his scorn and ridicule. The passage may be compared with Jeremiah 10:3-10 and Baruch 6:8-72. Verse 9. - They that make a graven image are... vanity; rather, are confusion. The word used is tohu, which, together with bohu, describes the primitive chaos in Genesis 1:2 (comp. Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 34:11; Isaiah 40:17, 23; Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 59:4). Their delectable things shall not profit. "Their delectable things" are their idols, which are "pets, favourites, treasures." These cannot possibly be of any advantage to them. They are their own witnesses. Their powerlessness stands confessed in their very appearance, since they are manifestly sightless and senseless. That they may be ashamed. The subject of this clause cannot be sought in the earlier part of the verse. It is the idol-makers that will be put to shame.
Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?
Verse 10. - Who hath... molten a graven image? Metal idols were mostly cast in the first instance, and then finished off with a graving-tool. "Who hath molten" means "who has been so foolish as to do so - to take so much trouble about a thing which cannot possibly profit any one?"
Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.
Verse 11. - All his fellows; or, all its associates; i.e. all who are associated together in the worship of the idol. The worshippers of a particular idol, or sometimes of a particular god, formed a sort of guild or company, bound together by common participation in certain rites, and under an obligation to defend each other. The prophet says that, though the worshippers and the makers should, all of them, be gathered together, and stand up to help one the ether, yet should they be unable to effect anything. Gathered together against God, they would "tremble and be ashamed."
The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint.
Verse 12. - The smith with the tongs. The Hebrew text is defective, some word having fallen out. We should probably supply "maketh," and translate, The smith maketh an axe, and worketh it in the coals, and with hammers fashioneth it. The description of image-making thus commences with the fashioning of the carpenter's tools. He is hungry, etc. The artificer who takes the first step in "forming a god" (ver. 10) is himself hungry and thirsty, depending on so mean a thing as food to supply him with the needful strength. Unless he can cat and drink, the whole work is brought to a standstill.
The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.
Verse 13. - The carpenter, etc. When the smith has done his part in the formation of tools, the carpenter is called into action. His proceedings are traced "extragressively." (Delitzsch). First, he is regarded as in possession of his block of wood. On this he proceeds to stretch out his rule, to obtain the idol's length and breadth. Then he marks out on the block a rough outline with red chalk (sered). After this he pares away the superfluous wood with planes, or chisels, and marks out the limbs more accurately with the compass, planing and measuring until he has brought the rough block into the figure of a man, and impressed on it something of the beauty of a man, so that it may seem worthy of remaining in the place where it is set up, whether temple or private house. But there is something necessarily anterior to all this. To obtain his block, the carpenter must first cut down a tree, or have one cut down for him (ver. 14); to obtain a tree, he (or some one for him) must have planted it; for the tree to have grown to a fitting size, the rain must have watered it. So the very existence of these wooden idols depends ultimately on whether it has rained or not - i.e., whether God has given his rain or withheld it.
He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.
Verse 14. - Cedars... cypress... oak. The second of the trees mentioned is more probably the ilex than the cypress, which does not grow either in Palestine or in Babylonia. Idols would be made of cedar on account of its fragrance, of flex and oak on account of their hardness and durability. Cedar was used as a material for carved figures in Egypt (Birch, 'Contents of British Museum,' p. 21). Which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest. The meaning is obscure. Dr. Kay translates, "and he encourages himself in the trees of the forest," which conveys no very distinct idea; Delitzsch, "and he chooses for himself among the trees," etc., which is sufficiently clear, but scarcely obtainable from the Hebrew text; Knobel, "he makes himself secure among the trees" (by putting a mark on those which he intends to have), which imparts an idea certainly not contained in the original. He planteth an ash. It is uncertain, and it does not greatly matter, what tree is intended. The point is that, before trees can grow up, they have to be planted, and that, for them to grow when planted, God's gift of rain is necessary (see the comment on ver. 13).
Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.
Verse 15. - Then shall it be for a man to burn. The tree that has been planted, and nourished, and has grown up is naturally "for a man to burn." That is its ordinary destination; and even the idolater applies it partly to this purpose; but out of a portion he maketh a god. The very same tree serves him both for fuel and for a divinity.
He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:
Verse 16. - He burneth part thereof; rather, half thereof; "With half thereof" - not the other half, but the same - "he eateth flesh." One fire serves for the two purposes of warming him and cooking his victuals.
And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.
Verse 17. - The residue thereof; i.e. the other half.
They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.
Verse 18. - They have not known nor understood. The cause of all this folly is a Minding of the understanding, divinely caused in the way of punishment, on account of their having wilfully closed their eyes to the truth. Because they "did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate (or, undistinguishing) mind" (Romans 1:28; comp. Isaiah 29:10). He hath shut; or, One hath shut. But the reference is in either case to God. The word translated "shut" means literally "plastered" or "smeared."
And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?
Verse 19. - None considereth in his heart; literally, recalls it to his heart; i.e. returns to a sound way of thinking upon the subject. It is implied that the idolaters had once had it in their power to think and reason justly upon the absurdity of such conduct as that which was now habitual to them. But they had lost the power. They had suffered themselves little by little to be deluded. The stock of a tree. The marginal rendering, "that which comes of a tree," is preferable.
He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?
Verse 20. - He feedeth on ashes; i.e. on vanity - on what can give no support or sustenance (comp. Proverbs 15:14; Hosea 12:1). A deceived heart. Either self-deceived, or imposed upon by illusions from without; e.g. the seeming power of the idols, as seen in the victories and conquests of their worshippers. He cannot deliver his soul. The deceived soul is bound in trammels, which it feels to be irksome, and from which it would fain be free. But it cannot deliver itself. Deliverance must come from some external source; in other words, man needs a Deliverer. Is there not a lie in my right hand? An idol is "a lie." It professes to have power, strength, ability to help and save, whereas it has no power at all. It cannot even save itself. Savages often beat their fetishes. Diagoras of Melos threw an image of Hercules into the fire on which he was cooking his dinner, and bade Hercules make himself of some use by boiling his turnips. The powerlessness of idols even to help themselves is represented with much force in the Book of Baruch (6:12-15, 17-22, 27, 49, etc.).
Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.
Verses 21-28. - ISRAEL ONCE MORE PROMISED DELIVERANCE, AND THE DELIVERER MENTIONED BY NAME. Israel, having been exhorted never to forget the impotency of idols (ver. 21), is promised forgiveness and deliverance (vers. 21, 22). Then, heaven and earth are called upon to join in rejoicing over the announcement (ver. 23). Finally, in a noble burst of poetry, God is represented as solemnly declaring his intention of frustrating all the false sayings of the soothsayers concerning his people, and accomplishing their restoration to their own land, and the rebuilding of their temple through the instrumentality of Cyrus (vers. 24-28). Verse 21. - Remember these; rather, remember these things; i.e. the futility of idols and the folly of the idol-worshippers. For thou art my servant. Therefore bound to worship me, and not the idols (comp. Isaiah 41:8; vers. 1, 2). I have formed thee (so also in Isaiah 43:1, 21; vers. 2, 24). The duty of absolute unquestioning obedience seems contained in the relation of that which is formed to that which has formed it. On the other hand, it may be assumed that he who has formed a thing will have a constant care of it and regard for it - that at any rate he will not "forget" it.
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.
Verse 22. - I have blotted out... thy sins (comp. Isaiah 43:25). The promise there made is here represented as having its fulfilment. Before God reverses his sentence and restores his people, he must first forgive them. As a thick cloud... as a cloud. It would be better to translate, as a cloud... as a thick cloud. The latter of the two Hebrew words used is the more emphatic. Return unto me. This is an underlying condition, both of restoration and of forgiveness. Only the penitent can be received back into favour. The knowledge, however, that God has, in his counsels, "redeemed" his people generally, may act as a stimulus on individuals to repent and turn to him.
Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.
Verse 23. - Sing, O ye heavens. The sympathy of external nature with the fortunes of Israel is assumed throughout Isaiah, as it is throughout the Psalms (see Psalm 11:6-8; 24:4-7; 29:17; 30:25, 26; 33:9; 35:1, 2, 7, etc.). If Israel is depressed, the earth must "mourn and languish," the heavens grow dark; the mountains shrink and "be ashamed." If, on the contrary, Israel prospers, heaven and earth, mountain and forest, Isaiah 49:13),of the joy felt by the angels over the returning and pardoned sinner; but the context of both passages is in favour of the material heavens being meant. It is quite possible that there is a real and not merely a fancied sympathy between the material and the spiritual worlds. The Lord hath done it; literally, the Lord hath wrought - what he has wrought is not said. Mr. Cheyne translates, "Jehovah hath done nobly." Shout, ye lower parts of the earth. Metonymy of the part for the whole - "the lower parts of the earth" for "the earth even to its lowest depths." There is no thought of Sheol or of its inhabitants. Break forth into singing (comp. Isaiah 14:7; Isaiah 35:2). As children and birds sing from the very gladness of their hearts, thereby venting the joy that almost oppresses them, so all nature is called upon, not merely to rejoice, but to give vent to its joy, now that Israel is redeemed and God glorified.
Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
Verse 24. - Thus saith the Lord. This is not a new prophecy entirely unconnected with the preceding, as Delitzsch supposes, lint a declaration to which the prophet has been working up, and which he intends as the crown and climax of all that he has been announcing with respect to Israel's deliverance. Not only is the deliverance absolutely determined on in God's counsels, but the Deliverer himself is already chosen and designated. He that formed thee from the womb (comp. ver. 2). I am the Lord that maketh all things - rather, I the Lord am he that doeth all things; i.e. I am he that executeth whatever he designs - that stretcheth forth the heavens alone (comp. Job 9:8), that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself. God did not delegate the creation of the heaven and the earth to an inferior spirit, a δημιουργός, as the Greeks generally taught. He did not even call in the co operation of a helper. Singly and solely by his own power he created all things.
That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;
Verse 25. - That frustrateth the tokens of the liars; i.e. "who brings to nought the prognostications of the astrologers and soothsayers, that pretend falsely to a knowledge of future events" (see Isaiah 49:13; and comp. Jeremiah 29:8, 9); and maketh diviners mad; i.e. "shows them to be thole or madmen" (see Job 12:17). That turneth wise men backward; i.e. "repulses them - puts them to flight." Pretenders to wisdom, rather than truly wise men, are meant.
That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:
Verse 26. - That confirmeth the word of his servant; that is, of Isaiah himself, whom God calls "my Servant" in Isaiah 20:3. The "messengers" are the prophets generally. Before the return from the Captivity took place, it had been prophesied, not only by Isaiah, but by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:10-14), by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 39:25-28), by Joel 3:1), by Amos (Amos 9:11-15), by Obadiah (Obadiah:20), by Micah (Micah 4:10), and by Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:14-20).
That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:
Verse 27. - That saith to the deep, Be dry (comp. Isaiah 42:15). "The flood" here is probably the main stream of the Euphrates, while "the rivers" are the various side streams which branched off from it and again united themselves with it. Some commentators regard the drying of Euphrates as a mere metaphor for the exhaustion and ruin of Babylon (Kay); but (with Delitzsch) I should be inclined to understand a reference to the action of Cyrus in drawing off the water of the river (see the comment on Isaiah 42:15).
That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
Verse 28. - That saith of Cyrus. The mention of Cyrus by name, here and again in Isaiah 45:1, has no doubt been one of the main grounds on which has been set up the theory of two Isaiahs. It has been thought incredible, or at any rate contrary to the analogy of prophetical revelation, that so minute a matter as the name of a man should have been announced in prophecy more than a century before his birth. There is, however, the parallel case of Josiah, who, according to the author of the Books of Kings, was announced by name more than three centuries before his birth (1 Kings 13:2). And there are the extremely minute facts noted in Daniel 11, which were prophetically de-dared from two centuries to three centuries and a half before they happened. It is, perhaps, assuming that we know more than we really do know about the object and laws of prophetic utterance, to lay it down that there can be no minute prophecy except when the prophet is living in the midst of the events. It is certainly a very marvellous thing that Isaiah, living at the close of the eighth and the beginning of the seventh century B.C., should -mention a king by name who did not ascend the throne till the middle of the sixth; but no one can suppose that God could not have made such a revelation to him if he pleased. An attempt to minimize the marvel, without postulating two Isaiahs, has been made by the supposition that "Cyrus" was not really a proper name, but an old title of the Persian (Achaemenian) kings, signifying" the sun," and that Isaiah, therefore, only meant to point out Persia as the power which would destroy Babylon, which he had already done in effect in Isaiah 21:2. But, in reality, there is no sufficient ground for either of the two statements

(1) that Cyrus meant "the sun," and

(2) that it was an old titular name of all the Persian kings.

That "Cyrus" meant "the sun," rests upon the weak authorities of Plutarch and Ctesias, and has been disproved by Sir H. Rawlinson ('Cuneiform Inscriptions,' vol. 2, p. 112). That it was an old titular name of all the Persian kings is directly contrary to the evidence. Out of fourteen Achaemenian kings, two only bore the name; and they bore it as their one and only personal appellation. It was also borne by an Achaemenian prince who had no other name. It is as purely a proper name as Cambyses, or Xerxes, or Darius. The theory of Dean Plumptre ('Biblical Studies,' p. 195) must therefore be set aside as untenable, and we must face the fact that the great Cyrus, who reigned from B.C. 559 to B.C. 529, is mentioned in prophecies attributed to a writer whose death cannot be placed much later than B.C. 700. The name which the Greeks expressed by Κύρος and the Romans by "Cyrus," is in the original Persian Kurush, in the old Babylonian Kuras, and in the Hebrew Koresh. He is my shepherd; i.e. not a mere ordinary king, who was often called "the shepherd of his people (ποιμὴν λαῶν)," but "my shepherd" - the shepherd of my people, who will tend them and care for them. And shall perform (literally, accomplish) all my pleasure. Cyrus is said by Josephus to have had ibis prophecy pointed out to him on his conquest of Babylon, and to have thereupon determined to fulfil what was written ('Ant. Jud.,' 12:1, § 2). His edict, reported by Ezra (Ezra 1:2-4), contained a statement that "Jehovah had charged him to build him a house at Jerusalem." It is difficult to see any sufficient political object for his restoration of the Jews to their country. Thou shalt be built; rather, it shall be built. Thy foundation shall be laid; literally, it shall be founded. The decree of Cyrus found by Darius at Ecbatana required that "the foundations of the house should be strongly laid" (Ezra 6:3), and prescribed its dimensions and materials. (On the actual laying of the foundations, see Ezra 3:8-13.)

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