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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 45:2

 

 

"I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.

Adam Clarke Commentary

The crooked places "The mountains" - For הדורים hodurim, crooked places, a word not easily accounted for in this place, the Septuagint read הררים hararim, τα ορη, the mountains. Two MSS. have הדרים hadarim, without the ו vau, which is hardly distinguishable from the reading of the Septuagint. The Divine protection that attended Cyrus, and rendered his expedition against Babylon easy and prosperous is finely expressed by God's going before him, and making the mountains level. The image is highly poetical: -

At vos, qua veniet, tumidi subsidite montes,

Et faciles curvis vallibus este viae.

Ovid, Amor. 2:16.

"Let the lofty mountains fall down,

and make level paths in the crooked valleys."

The gates of brass "The valves of brass" - Abydenus, apud, Euseb. Praep. Evang. 9:41, says, that the wall of Babylon had brazen gates. And Herodotus, i, 179. more particularly: "In the wall all round there are a hundred gates, all of brass; and so in like manner are the sides and the lintels." The gates likewise within the city, opening to the river from the several streets, were of brass; as were those also of the temple of Belus. - Herod. i., 180, 181.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-45.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I will go before thee - To prepare the way for conquest, a proof that it is by the providence of God that the proud conquerors of the earth are enabled to triumph. The idea is, I will take away everything that would retard or oppose your victorious march.

And make the crooked paths straight - (See the note at Isaiah 40:4). The Chaldee renders this, ‹My word shall go before thee, and I will prostrate the walls.‘ Lowth renders it, ‹Make the mountains plain.‘ Noyes, ‹Make the high places plain.‘ The Septuagint renders it, Ὄρη ὁμαλιῶ Orē homaliō - ‹Level mountains.‘ Vulgate, Gloriosos terroe humiliabo - ‹The high places of the earth I will bring down.‘ The word הדוּרים hădûrı̂ym is from הדר hâdar to be large, ample, swollen, tumid; and probably means the swollen tumid places, that is, the hills or elevated places; and the idea is, that God would make them level, or would remove all obstructions out of his way.

I will break in pieces the gates of brass - Ancient cities were surrounded by walls, and secured by strong gates, which were not unfrequently made of brass. To Babylon there were one hundred gates, twenty-five on each side of the city, which, with their posts, were made of brass. ‹In the circumference of the walls,‘ says Herodotus (i. 179), ‹at different distances, were a hundred massy gates of brass, whose hinges and frames were of the same metal.‘ It was to this, doubtless, that the passage before us refers.

The bars of iron - With which the gates of the city were fastened. ‹One method of securing the gates of fortified places among the ancients, was to cover them with thick plates of iron - a custom which is still used in the East, and seems to be of great antiquity. We learn from Pitts, that Algiers has five gates, and some of these have two, some three other gates within them, and some of them plated all over with iron. Pococke, speaking of a bridge near Antioch, called the iron bridge, says, that there are two towers belonging to it, the gates of which are covered with iron plates. Some of these gates are plated over with brass; such are the enormous gates of the principal mosque at Damascus, formerly the church of John the Baptist‘ (Paxton). The general idea in these passages is, that Cyrus would owe his success to divine interposition; and that that interposition would be so striking that it would be manifest that he owed his success to the favor of heaven. This was so clear in the history of Cyrus, that it is recognized by himself, and was also recognized even by the pagan who witnessed the success of his arms. Thus Cyrus says Ezra 1:2, ‹Jehovah, God of heaven, hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth.‘ Thus Herodotus (i. 124) records the fact that Harpagus said in a letter to Cyrus, ‹Son of Cambyses, heaven evidently favors you, or you could never have thus risen superior to fortune.‘ So Herodotus (i. 205) says that Cyrus regarded himself as endowed with powers more than human:, ‹When he considered the special circumstances of his birth, he believed himself more than human. He reflected also on the prosperity of his arms, and that wherever he had extended his excursions, he had been followed by success and victory.‘


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-45.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight,.... Or, "level the hilly places"F3The Septuagint render the word by ορη, mountains; Gussetius by eminences, high places, such as stood in the way of passage into countries. The Vulgate Latin interprets it of glorious persons; and Abendana says it is right to understand it in this way; and applies it to Zerubbabel, and those that went up with him to Jerusalem, with the leave of Cyrus, who were good men, and honourable in their works, whom the Lord directed in their way right, and prospered them in the building of the temple, ; as pioneers do. The sense is, that he would remove all impediments and obstructions out of his way, and cause him to surmount all difficulties:

I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; with which the brasen gates were barred: in the wall that surrounded Babylon there were a hundred gates, all made of solid brass, twenty five on each side of the square; which, no doubt, are here referred to; which could not hinder the entrance of Cyrus into the city, and the taking of it; though they were not then destroyed by him, but by Darius afterwardsF4Herodot. l. 1. c. 179. l. 3. c. 159. these gates of brass are mentioned by AbydenusF5Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 41. p. 457. , as made by Nebuchadnezzar, and as continuing till the empire of the Macedonians.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-45.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

I will go before thee, and make the d crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut asunder the bars of iron:

(d) I will take away all impediments and hindrances.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-45.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

straight — (Isaiah 40:4), rather, “maketh mountains plain” [Lowth], that is, clear out of thy way all opposing persons and things. The Keri reads as in Isaiah 45:13, “make straight” (Margin).

gates of brass — (Psalm 107:16). Herodotus (1.179) says, Babylon had a hundred massive gates, twenty-five on each of the four sides of the city, all, as well as their posts, of brass.

bars of iron — with which the gates were fastened.


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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-45.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

Go — To remove all obstructions, to destroy all them that oppose thee, and carry thee through the greatest difficulties.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-45.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

2.and 3.I will go before thee. These two verses contain nothing new; but, in general, he shews that Cyrus will gain an easy and rapid victory, because he will have the Lord for the leader of his expedition. Accordingly he promises that all crooked paths shall be made straight, because God will remove every obstruction. Now, since money is the sinews of war, and Cyrus came from the scorched and poor mountains of Persia, Jehovah says that treasures which were formerly hidden and concealed shall come into the hands of Cyrus, so that, laden with rich booty, he shall have enough for defraying any expenditure; for by the treasures of darkness he means those which lay concealed, and as it were buried in safe and deep places of defense. It is abundantly clear from history, that all these things happened; for by taking Croesus, king of Lydia, who was at that time the richest of all men, he obtained large sums of money. Nor would any one have expected that he would gain victories so easily; and the reason of so great success is now added, because the Lord called and directed him, that he might give in him an illustrious demonstration of his power; for he adds —

That thou mayest know that I am Jehovah. True, Cyrus, as we formerly said, though he acknowledged that the God of Israel is the true God, and was filled with admiration, yet was not converted to him, and never embraced his pure worship according to the standard of the Law. This was therefore special knowledge, that is, so far as he assisted the Church, for whose deliverance he was appointed; and therefore it was necessary that he should be under the influence of this knowledge, in order that he might execute this work of God. Thus he does not speak of that knowledge by which we are enlightened, or about the Spirit of regeneration, but about special knowledge, such as men destitute of religion (194) may possess.

Calling thee by thy name. From some commentators this mode of expression has received a trivial interpretation, that “before Cyrus was born, God called and described him by his name.” But we have seen in a former passage, (Isaiah 43:1,) that the Prophet, while he used the same form of expression, meant something different; for God is said to “call by name” those whom he has chosen, and whom he appoints to perform some particular work, that they may be separated from the multitude. This word denotes closer and more familiar intercourse. Thus a shepherd is said to “call his sheep by name,” (John 10:3,) because he knows them individually. This applies indeed, in the highest degree, to believers, whom God reckons as belonging to his flock, and to the number of the citizens of his Church. God did not bestow this favor on Cyrus; but because, by appointing him to be the leader of so excellent a deliverance, he engraved on him distinguished marks of his power; with good reason is the commendation of an excellent calling applied to him.

The God of Israel. This ought to be carefully observed; for superstitious men ascribe to their idols the victories which they have obtained, and, as Habakkuk (Habakkuk 1:16) says, “They sacrifice every one to his god;” and therefore they wander in their thoughts, and conceive in their hearts any deity that they fancy, while they ought to acknowledge that Jehovah is the only and true God. What is said of Cyrus ought to be much more applied to us, that we may not fashion any knowledge of God according to our fancy, but may distinguish him from idols, so as to embrace him alone, and to know him in Christ alone, apart from whom nothing but an idol, or even a devil can be worshipped. In that; respect, therefore, let us surpass Cyrus, to whom the knowledge of God was revealed, so that we may lay aside superstitions and all false worship, and may thus adore him in a holy and upright manner.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-45.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 45:2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

Ver. 2. And make the crooked places even.] Or, The hilly places level.

I will break in pieces the gates of brass.] This God would do, that his temple might be built; {compare Isaiah 44:28} but in the New Testament, Christ throweth the gates of hell off their hinges, like another Samson, that he may build his Church. [Matthew 16:18] And it is this Aedificabo Ecclesiam meam I will build my church, that hath made all the stir in the world.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-45.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Isaiah 45:2

I. Man must go. Each man is accomplishing a journey, going through a process. The only question is—How? Man may go, either with God or without Him. Whether we go with God or without Him, we shall find crooked places; we had better clearly understand this, lest any one should turn round after he has walked the first mile of Christian life, and say he expected there would have been no such places in all the course. Life is crooked; we ourselves are crooked; there is nothing in all human experience of which we can certainly say, This is perfectly straight. God Himself often inserts a crook in the lot. We should regard the text as a warning. There are crooked places.

II. The text is also a promise. "I will go before thee." God does not say where He will straighten our path; He does not say how; the great thing for us to believe is that there is a special promise for us, and to wait in devout hope for its fulfilment. He who waits for God is not misspending his time. Such waiting is true living—such tarrying is the truest speed.

III. The text is not only a warning and a promise, but also a plan. It is in the word before that I find the plan, and it is in that word before that I find the difficulty on the human side. God does not say, I will go alongside thee; we shall go step by step: He says, I will go before thee. Sometimes it may be a long way before us, so that we cannot see Him; and sometimes it may be just in front of us. But whether beyond, far away, or here close at hand, the great idea we have to live upon is that God goes before us. (1) Let us beware of regarding the text as a mere matter of course. There is an essential question of character to be settled. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." (2) Let us beware of regarding this text as a licence for carelessness. Let us not say, "If God goes before me, and makes all places straight, why need I care?" To the good man all life is holy; there is no step of indifference; no subject that does not bring out his best desires. "The place whereon thou standest is holy ground" is the expression 6f every man who knows what it is to have God going before him.

Parker, City Temple, 1870, p. 4.


References: Isaiah 45:2.—Pulpit Analyst, vol. i., p. 166; Preacher's Lantern, vol. ii., p. 381.


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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/isaiah-45.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I will go before thee, to remove all obstructions, and to prepare the way for thee, as it follows.

I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; I will destroy all them that oppose thee, and carry thee through the greatest difficulties.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-45.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2. Gates of brass — See preceding verse. The Lord, by his prophet, promises the removal of every barrier. A hundred years later, Herodotus speaks of great Babylon’s gates of brass that were destroyed. This helps to confirm Isaiah’s knowledge of their existence.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/isaiah-45.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Brass. Babylon had 100 such gates. (Herodotus i. 179.)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-45.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

straight = level.

break in pieces = shiver.

gates of brass. Herodotus (i. 180) tells us that the gates leading to the river were of brass.

cut in sunder =. smash.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-45.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

I will ... make the crooked places straight - (Isaiah 40:4.) So the Qeri' reads [ '


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-45.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) Make the crooked places straight.—Better, make the dwelling-places smooth—i.e., remove all obstacles (comp. , 42:16).


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-45.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
go before
13:4-17
make
40:4; 42:16; Acts 1:15; Luke 3:5
break
Psalms 107:16

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-45.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CROOKED PLACES MADE STRAIGHT

Isa . I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight.

Man must go; the only question is—How? He may go, either with God, or without Him; God does not force Himself upon us. Whether we go with God, or without Him, we shall find crooked places. But having taken God as our leader, we have come to know what is the meaning of having these crooked places made straight for us. Straightness may be in apparent crookedness; amid all the curvature and intricacy, Christians have been brought through upon a course, that for all high purposes—filial education, spiritual culture, and strength—has been practically and really straight. A child might go to the geographer, and say, "What nonsense you talk about the earth being round! Look on this great crag; look on that deep dell; look on yonder great mountain, and the valley at its feet; and yet you talk about the earth being round!" The geographer's view is comprehensive; he sees a larger world than the child has had time to grasp. We should regard the text—

I. AS A WARNING. There are crooked places. One could wish that we could make one's own the experience of those that have gone before; but each man must run his own course.

1. There are crooked dispositions,—men of whom you can make nothing. Let the young, especially, be forewarned, and so forearmed. There are those to be met with in life, who, when you think you are walking in the line of their sympathies, will turn perversely upon you; men who, in the midst of your strenuous efforts to serve them, will be as unthankful and ungracious as the rock or the sand that is unblest by all the rich rains of Heaven.

2. There are crooked places in circumstances.

When we think we are proceeding most satisfactorily, we sometimes come to knots and difficulties of which we can make nothing.

3. Crooked places are found in the uncertainties of life. No man can certainly say what will transpire during the next hour; and so, again and again, to our disappointment and mortification, we are compelled to withdraw from our methods, and to abandon that on which we had set our heart.

II. AS A PROMISE. "I will go before thee." This was a Divine promise made to Cyrus; and God has made the same promise to all who put their trust in Him. It is surely something to have a Father's promise singing in the heart. Many know the inspiration even of a human promise. We need the triumphant faith that says definitely to God, "Thou didst promise this, and we wait for its fulfilment." We need patience, too; patience that comes of faith, that God may, so to speak, have time to fulfil His promise. God does not say when He will straighten our path; nor how. He who waits for God is not misspending his time; such tarrying is the truest speed. If we could believe that, how calm, how quiet, how strong, how sublime would be our life!

III. AS A PLAN. We should regard the text as a scheme—a method, a special way of doing things; "I will go before thee." The word before shows the plan; and it also expresses the difficulty on the human side. God does not say, "I will go alongside thee;" nor, "I will go behind thee;" but before thee. Sometimes, it may be, so far before, that we cannot see Him. There is sovereignty here; but there is love and tenderness too, as when the mother goes before her child that is just learning to walk. The idea of God going before every man, as if he were the only man in the world, does not dwarf God, but rather exalts Him exceedingly. "My Father and your Father," said Christ, "my God and your God."

CONCLUSION.—Let us beware of regarding the truth of the text as a mere matter of course. There is an essential question of character to be considered: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord;" "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly."

2. Let us beware of regarding this text as a license for carelessness. "The place whereon thou standest is holy ground," is the expression of every man who knows what it is to have God going before him.—Joseph Parker, D.D., The City Temple, pp. 4-12.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 45:2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-45.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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