I have raised up one from the north
Either one people, or one person; a mighty king, as the Targum; meaning either Cyrus, who might be said to come from the north, and from the rising of the sun, or the east, as in the next clause; since he was by birth a Medo-Persian, hence called a mule; by his mother a Mede, and the country of Media lay rather to the north of Babylon; and by his father a Persian, and Persia lay to the east of it; and the forces he brought with him against it were partly Medes, and partly Persians; though some, as Jarchi observes, think two persons are meant in this and the next clause; in this Nebuchadnezzar, who came from Babylon, which lay north of Judea, to invade it; and in the other Cyrus, who came from the east, and proclaimed the name of the Lord, and liberty to the captive Jews. Kimchi and his father both interpret it of the King Messiah, as do also more ancient Jewish writers F3, of whom Cyrus was a type; but to me it seems best of all, as most agreeable to the scope and tenure of the prophecy, to understand it of Constantine, who, as reported, was born in Britain, in the northern part of the world; but, when called to the empire, was in the eastern parts of it; and so with great propriety it is expressed here, and in the following clause: and from the rising of the sun he shall call upon my name;
which those that apply the prophecy to Cyrus explain by ( Ezra 1:1-3 ) , but is much more applicable to Constantine, who was a worshipper of the true God, which invocation of his name is expressive of; and who openly professed the name of Christ, and encouraged those that did, and spread his name and fame, his Gospel and his glory, throughout the empire, east and west: and he shall come upon princes as upon morter, and as the potter
that is, he shall come upon them with his army, and conquer them, and tread them down, and trample upon them, as morter is trodden upon, or mire in the streets; or as the clay is trodden by the potter, who does with it as he pleases; which those who interpret it of Cyrus understand of Astyages, Croesus, Belshazzar, and others; see ( Isaiah 14:1 ) , and is as true of Constantine, who subdued the emperors of Rome, trod them under his feet, as Maximius, Maxentius, Licinius; moreover, the word "saganin", here used, is a word used by Jewish writers for priests, for such who were the deputies of the high priest; and it may design here the Pagan priests, and the destruction of them, and of Paganism in the Roman empire by Constantine.
F3 Vajikra Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 153. 1. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 13. fol. 208. 1. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 19. 2.