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Isaiah 41:2

2 Who raised up the righteous[a] man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.

Isaiah 41:2 Meaning and Commentary

Isaiah 41:2

Who raised up the righteous man from the east
The Targum interprets this of Abraham; and so the Talmud F8; and this way go most Jewish and Christian commentators, and to him the characters agree; he was a righteous man, believed in Christ for righteousness, had the righteousness of faith when circumcised, did justice, and wrought righteousness himself, and required his children and servants to do the same, ( Genesis 15:6 ) ( 18:19 ) ( Romans 4:11 ) , he was raised up out of an idolatrous family, from Ur of the Chaldees, on the other side the river Euphrates, which lay east of Judea; he was called by the Lord to his foot, as it follows, and was obedient to him; he went forth at his command, not knowing whither he went, ( Hebrews 11:8 ) . God gave him by promise the land of Canaan, possessed by several "nations", and which his seed afterwards inherited; yea, he made him, in a spiritual sense, "the father of many nations", even of all believers, in all nations of the world, ( Genesis 15:18-21 ) ( 17:4-6 ) ( Romans 4:11 Romans 4:12 Romans 4:16 ) , he made him a conqueror "over" the "kings" that had vanquished the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, and plundered their cities; who were no more able to stand before him, though he had no more than three hundred and eighteen servants of his household, than "dust and stubble" can resist the force of a mighty wind; he "pursued them" in an unknown tract, got an entire victory over them, without being hurt or losing a man; which was so extraordinary an affair, that Melchizedek, priest of the most high God, and a type of Christ, went forth to meet him, and blessed him, ( Genesis 14:14 Genesis 14:15 Genesis 14:18-20 ) , and who but the mighty God could or did raise up this man, and make him what he was, and do the things he did? some, as Aben Ezra, and several Christian writers also, think that Cyrus is meant, spoken of as raised up already, though to come, in the manner of prophetic language, called the ravenous bird from the east, ( Isaiah 46:11 ) , who came from Persia, which lay east of Judea; whom God called to his foot,
and who performed his pleasure, and executed his counsel, and so said to be a "righteous man" in that respect; and is expressly said to be "raised up in righteousness"; before whom the Lord subdued "nations", and loosed the loins of "kings"; see ( Isaiah 44:28 ) ( Isaiah 45:1 Isaiah 45:13 ) ( Isaiah 46:10 Isaiah 46:11 ) , some understand it of him as a type of Christ, who is the righteous One, or "righteousness" itself, as the word properly signifies, the Lord our righteousness; whose name is "Oriens", or the east, the rising sun in the east, ( Zechariah 3:8 ) , the angel ascending from the east, ( Revelation 7:2 ) , born in the eastern part of the world; called to be the servant of the Lord, and was; to whom he has given the Heathen for his inheritance, and made him his firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth, and whom he will overcome and slay with his twoedged sword: but since rather Christ is the person speaking, and concerning whom the controversy is, therefore some person distinct from him must be meant; and I am inclined to think, with Coeceius, that the Apostle Paul is intended, that wonderful man; though this sense is rejected by Vitringa: he was a "righteous" one, made so by the righteousness of Christ; he believed in it, and was a preacher of it, and lived a holy and righteous life and conversation; whom the Lord raised up for uncommon service and usefulness, and to whom he appeared personally to make him a minister, and send him out to do his work; he was raised up in the eastern part of the world, in Judea, being a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and from thence sent forth into various parts; see ( Acts 26:16-18 ) : called him to his foot;
and though he was like a furious lion, raging against his saints, breathing out slaughter and threatenings against them, and in the height of his rage and fury; yet was at once, at the call of Christ, made as tame as a lamb, and said, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" he was willing to do anything and everything he pleased, ( Acts 9:1 Acts 9:6 ) and when he signified it as his will that he should preach his Gospel, he was not disobedient, he did not confer with flesh and blood, but at once set about it with the greatest zeal and readiness: gave the nations before him;
made him an apostle of the Gentiles, or of the nations, and made those Gentiles or nations obedient by word and deed; he triumphed in Christ everywhere, and diffused the savour of his knowledge in every place, ( Romans 11:13 ) ( 15:18 ) ( 2 Corinthians 2:14 ) : and made him rule over kings?
governors, princes, potentates, and kings of the earth; he had power over their spirits, being an instrument either of converting them, as Sergius Paulus the Roman deputy, from whence some think he had his name; or to make them to tremble at his discourses, as Felix the Roman governor; and of bringing them at least to own there was something in the Christian religion, as Agrippa, a crowned head, who was obliged to confess he had almost persuaded him to be a Christian, ( Acts 13:7 Acts 13:12 ) ( 24:25 ) ( 26:28 ) , and of bringing their kingdoms, and the inhabitants of them, into subjection to Christ: he gave them as dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow;
whose weapons were not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God; his sword was the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; his bow and arrows were the Gospel, and the truths of it, in whose ministry Christ went forth conquering, and to conquer: and this being attended with the power of God, men could no more stand against them than dust and stubble before the wind.


F8 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 156. 2. Bava Bathra, fol. 15. 1. Sanhedrin, fol. 108. 2. and Taanith, fol. 21. 1.

Isaiah 41:2 In-Context

1 Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.
2 Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.
3 He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet.
4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.
5 The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. the righteous...: Heb. righteousness
The King James Version is in the public domain.