Calling a ravenous bird from the east
Or "a flying fowl", or "swift winged bird" F21; for the word used does not so much denote rapaciousness as swiftness; which well agrees with Cyrus, who is here meant, and not Abraham, as Jarchi, nor Nebuchadnezzar, as others; and who was always swift in all his expeditions, and always recommended celerity and dispatch of business to his soldiers and others, as Xenophon F23 often observes; and very remarkable is that speech of Tigranes to him, in which he tells him F24, that he so far exceeded the king of Armenia in swiftness, that he came upon him with a great army, from a far country, before he could get his army together, which was just by him. And very observable are the words of Cyrus himself, who was desirous of being a thorough horseman, that he might seem to be (anyrwpov pthnov) , "a winged" or "flying man" F25 So the Targum here renders it, a swift bird. Aben Ezra, who interprets it of Cyrus, says he is so called, as if he flew to do the will of God; and Kimchi observes of Cyrus, that he has this name because he came swiftly, and in haste, as a bird that flies: and it is no unusual thing for a mighty monarch, or a general, marching with his army, to be compared to a flying bird, particularly an eagle, ( Jeremiah 48:40 ) ( 49:22 ) ( Ezekiel 17:3 Ezekiel 17:7 ) ( Hosea 8:1 ) and may be the bird intended here, which well suits with Cyrus, who had, as Plutarch F26 reports, an aquiline nose; hence men that have such noses, among the Persians, are highly esteemed: and Xenophon F1 says, that the standard of Cyrus was a golden eagle upon the top of a high spear, and which is retained by the kings of Persia. Cyrus is said to be called from the east, because, as Kimchi observes, his country lay to the east of Babylon: the man that executeth my counsel from afar country;
as Persia was from Babylon, Assyria and other provinces lying between; but though he lived in a far country, and knew nothing of the affairs of the people of God in Babylon, or what work he was to do, yet God called him, and brought him to do his will, which he was ignorant of: so God sometimes puts into the hearts of men to fulfil his will, which they are strangers to, ( Revelation 17:17 ) . It is in the Hebrew text, "the man of my counsel" F2; not with whom the Lord consulted, for none are of his counsel in this sense; but whom in his counsels, decrees, and purposes, he appointed to such service, and whom he made use of as an instrument to do his pleasure; see ( Isaiah 44:8 ) yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass: I have purposed, I
will also do it;
the counsel of the Lord, concerning the deliverance of his people from Babylon, by the hand of Cyrus; this he had purposed in his own breast, had spoken of in prophecy, and would certainly perform. R. Joseph Kimchi interprets this verse of the Messiah, and so does Jerom, of whom, no doubt, Cyrus was a type; and what is here said agrees with him: he may be compared to a flying bird for his swiftness in coming at the appointed time; he came from the east, as the rising sun of righteousness; he was the man of God's counsel in the highest sense, and came, being called, to execute it; the work of redemption was according to the eternal purpose of God, and spoke of by all the holy prophets, and now accomplished; and his righteousness and salvation are made mention of in the following verses.
F21 (jye) "avem, a velocitate", Munster; so Vatablus; ab (jwe) "in volando celeriter et cum impetu", Forerius; so Ben Melech says, Cyrus is surnamed a fowl, because of his great swiftness and haste to come to Babylon; though he observes that some say, that a ravenous fowl is called (jye) ; the singular may be put for the plural; so Cocceius renders it, "volucres", birds, and may design the whole army of Cyrus.
F23 Cyropaedia, l. 1. c. 17. and l. 3. c. 6. and l. 6. c. 17.
F24 Cyropaedia, l. 3. c. 2.
F25 Ib. l. 4. c. 17.
F26 In Apothegm.
F1 Cyropaedia, l. 7. c. 1.
F2 (ytue vya) "virum mei consilii", Munster, Pagninus, Montanus; so according to the Keri: but the Cetib is (wtue vya) , "the man of his counsel".