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The Lord Empowers Cyrus

24 This is what the Lord, your Protector,[a] says,
the one who formed you in the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made everything,
who alone stretched out the sky,
who fashioned the earth all by myself,[b]
25 who frustrates the omens of the empty talkers[c]
and humiliates[d] the omen readers,
who overturns the counsel of the wise men[e]
and makes their advice[f] seem foolish,
26 who fulfills the oracles of his prophetic servants[g]
and brings to pass the announcements[h] of his messengers,
who says about Jerusalem, ‘She will be inhabited,’
and about the towns of Judah, ‘They will be rebuilt,
her ruins I will raise up,’
27 who says to the deep sea, ‘Be dry!
I will dry up your sea currents,’
28 who commissions[i] Cyrus, the one I appointed as shepherd[j]
to carry out all my wishes[k]
and to decree concerning Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’
and concerning the temple, ‘It will be reconstructed.’[l]

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  1. Isaiah 44:24 tn Heb “your redeemer.” See the note at 41:14.
  2. Isaiah 44:24 tn The consonantal text (Kethib) has “Who [was] with me?” The marginal reading (Qere) is “from with me,” i.e., “by myself.” See BDB 87 s.v. II אֵת 4.c.
  3. Isaiah 44:25 tc The Hebrew text has בַּדִּים (baddim), perhaps meaning “empty talkers” (BDB 95 s.v. III בַּד). In the four other occurrences of this word (Job 11:3; Isa 16:6; Jer 48:30; 50:36) the context does not make the meaning of the term very clear. Its primary point appears to be that the words spoken are meaningless or false. In light of its parallelism with “omen readers,” some have proposed an emendation to בָּרִים (barim, “seers”). The Mesopotamian baru-priests were divination specialists who played an important role in court life. See R. Wilson, Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel, 93-98. Rather than supporting an emendation, J. N. Oswalt (Isaiah [NICOT], 2:189, n. 79) suggests that Isaiah used בַּדִּים purposively as a derisive wordplay on the Akkadian word baru (in light of the close similarity of the d and r consonants).
  4. Isaiah 44:25 tn Or “makes fools of” (NIV, NRSV); NAB and NASB both similar.
  5. Isaiah 44:25 tn Heb “who turns back the wise” (so NRSV); NIV “overthrows the learning of the wise”; TEV “The words of the wise I refute.”
  6. Isaiah 44:25 tn Heb “their knowledge” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV).
  7. Isaiah 44:26 tn Heb “the word of his servant.” The following context indicates that the Lord’s prophets are in view.
  8. Isaiah 44:26 tn Heb “counsel.” The Hebrew term עֵצָה (ʿetsah) probably refers here to the divine plan as announced by the prophets. See HALOT 867 s.v. I עֵצָה.
  9. Isaiah 44:28 tn Heb “says to.” It is possible that the sentence is not completed, as the description of Cyrus and his God-given role is developed in the rest of the verse. 45:1 picks up where 44:28a leaves off with the Lord’s actual words to Cyrus finally being quoted in 45:2.
  10. Isaiah 44:28 tn Heb “my shepherd.” The shepherd motif is sometimes applied, as here, to a royal figure who is responsible for the well-being of the people whom he rules.
  11. Isaiah 44:28 tn Heb “that he might bring to completion all my desire.”
  12. Isaiah 44:28 tn Heb “and [concerning the] temple, you will be founded.” The preposition -לְ (le) is understood by ellipsis at the beginning of the second line. The verb תִּוָּסֵד (tivvased, “you will be founded”) is second masculine singular and is probably addressed to the personified temple (הֵיכָל [hekhal, “temple”] is masculine).