Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 44:28

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd "Who saith to Cyrus, Thou art my shepherd" - Pastor meus es; Vulg. The true reading seems to be אתה רעי roi attah ; the word אתה attah, has probably been dropped out of the text. The same word is lost out of the text, Psalm 119:57. It is supplied in the Septuagint by the word ει, thou art.

Saying to Jerusalem - For ולאמר velemor, the Septuagint and Vulgate read האומר haomer .

And to the temple - ולהיכל uleheychal, as לירושלם lirushalayim, before; the preposition is necessary, and the Vulgate seems to read so. - Houbigant.

That saith of Cyrus, He is, or thou art, my shepherd - Saying to Jerusalem, "Thou shalt be built;" and to the Temple, "Thy foundation shall be laid." - There is a remarkable beauty and propriety in this verse.

  1. Cyrus is called God's shepherd. Shepherd was an epithet which Cyrus took to himself; and what he gave to all good kings.
  • This Cyrus should say to the temple: "Thy foundation shall be laid." Not - thou shalt be built. The fact is, only the foundation was laid in the days of Cyrus, the Ammonites having prevented the building; nor was it resumed till the second year of Darius, one of his successors. There is often a precision in the expressions of the prophets which is as honorable to truth, as it is unnoticed by careless readers.
  • Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    That saith of Cyrus - This is the first time in which Cyrus is expressly named by Isaiah, though he is often referred to. He is mentioned by him only in one other place expressly by name Isaiah 45:1. He is several times mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament 2 Chronicles 26:22-23; Ezra 1:1-2, Ezra 1:7; Ezra 3:7; Ezra 4:3; Ezra 5:13, Ezra 5:17; Daniel 1:21; Daniel 6:28; Daniel 10:1. He began his reign about 550 b.c., and this prophecy was therefore delivered not far from a hundred and fifty years before he ascended the throne. None but God himself, or he whom God inspired, could have mentioned so long before, the name of him who should deliver the Jewish people from bondage; and if this was delivered, therefore, by Isaiah, it proves that he was under divine inspiration. The name of Cyrus (כורשׁ kôresh Greek Κῦ r ος Kuros ) the Greek writers say, means ‹the sun.‘ It is contracted from the Persian word khorschid, which in that language has this signification. Cyrus was the celebrated king of the Medes and Persians, and was the son of Cambyses the Persian, and of Mandane, daughter of Astyages, king of the Medes. For an account of his character and reign, see the notes at Isaiah 41:2, where I have anticipated all that is needful to be said here.

    He is my shepherd - A shepherd is one who leads and guides a flock, and then the word denotes, by a natural and easy metaphor, a ruler, or leader of a people. Thus the name is given to Moses in Isaiah 43:2; compare Psalm 77:20, and Ezekiel 34:23. The name here is given to Cyrus because God would employ him to conduct his people again to their own land. The word ‹my‘ implies, that he was under the direction of God, and was employed in his service.

    And shall perform all my pleasure - In destroying the city and kingdom of Babylon; in delivering the Jewish captives; and in rebuilding Jerusalem, and the temple.

    Even saying to Jerusalem - That is, I say to Jerusalem. The Vulgate, and the Septuagint renders this as meaning God, and not Cyrus, and doubtless this is the true construction. It was one of the things which God would do, to say to Jerusalem that it should be rebuilt.

    And to the temple - Though now desolate and in ruins, yet it shall be reconstructed, and its foundation shall be firmly laid. The phrase ‹to Jerusalem,‘ and ‹to the temple,‘ should be rendered ‹of,‘ in accordance with a common signification of the preposition ל (l ), and as it is rendered in the former part of the verse when speaking of Cyrus (compare Genesis 20:13; Judges 9:54). It was indeed under the direction of Cyrus that the city of Jerusalem was rebuilt, and the temple reconstructed Ezra 1:1; but still it was to be traced to God, who raised him up for this purpose. That this passage was seen by Cyrus is the testimony of Josephus, and is morally certain from the nature of the case, since, otherwise, it is incredible that he should have aided the Jews in returning to their own land, and in rebuilding their city and temple (see the Introduction, Section 2). This is one of the numerous instances in the Bible, in which God claims control and jurisdiction even over pagan princes and monarchs, and in which he says that their plans are under his direction, and made subservient to his will. It is one of the proofs that God presides over all, and that he makes the voluntary purposes of people subservient to him, and a part of the means of executing his glorious designs in relation to his people. Indeed, all the proud monarchs and conquerors of the earth have been in some sense instruments in his hand of executing his pleasure.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Return unto me. It is the great concern of those who have backslidden from God, like the Jews of old, to hasten their return to him. The work of redemption wrought for us by Christ, encourages to hope for all blessings from him. Our transgressions and our sins are as a thick cloud between heaven and earth: sins separate between us and God; they threaten a storm of wrath. When God pardons sin, he blots out, he dispels this cloud, this thick cloud, so that the way to heaven is open again. The cloud is scattered by the Sun of righteousness; it is quite gone. The comforts that flow into the soul when sin is pardoned, are like clear shining after clouds and rain. Let not Israel be discouraged; nothing is too hard for God: having made all, he can make what use he pleases of any. Those that learn to know Christ, see all knowledge to be foolishness, in comparison with the knowledge of him. And his enemies will find their counsels turned into foolishness, and themselves taken in their craftiness. The exact fulfilling the prophecies of Scripture confirms the truth of the whole, and proves its Divine origin. The particular favours God designed for his people in captivity, were foretold here, long before they went into captivity. Very great difficulties would be in the way of their deliverance; but it is promised that by Divine power they should all be removed. God knew who should be the Deliverer of his people; and let his church know it, that when they heard such a name talked of, they might know their redemption drew nigh. It is the greatest honour of the greatest men, to be employed as instruments of the Divine favour to his people. In things wherein men serve themselves, and look no further, God makes them do all his pleasure. And a nobler Shepherd than Cyrus does his Father's will, till his work is fully completed.
    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1175
    Ellen G. White
    Prophets and Kings, 557

    The deliverance of Daniel from the den of lions had been used of God to create a favorable impression upon the mind of Cyrus the Great. The sterling qualities of the man of God as a statesman of farseeing ability led the Persian ruler to show him marked respect and to honor his judgment. And now, just at the time God had said He would cause His temple at Jerusalem to be rebuilt, He moved upon Cyrus as His agent to discern the prophecies concerning himself, with which Daniel was so familiar, and to grant the Jewish people their liberty. PK 557.1

    As the king saw the words foretelling, more than a hundred years before his birth, the manner in which Babylon should be taken; as he read the message addressed to him by the Ruler of the universe, “I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me;” as he saw before his eyes the declaration of the eternal God, “For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me;” as he traced the inspired record, “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives, not for price nor reward,” his heart was profoundly moved, and he determined to fulfill his divinely appointed mission. Isaiah 45:5, 6, 4, 13. He would let the Judean captives go free; he would help them restore the temple of Jehovah. PK 557.2

    In a written proclamation published “throughout all his kingdom,” Cyrus made known his desire to provide for the return of the Hebrews and for the rebuilding of their temple. “The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth,” the king gratefully acknowledged in this public proclamation; “and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, ... and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering.” Ezra 1:1-4. PK 558.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Prophets and Kings, 552

    In the unexpected entry of the army of the Persian conqueror into the heart of the Babylonian capital by way of the channel of the river whose waters had been turned aside, and through the inner gates that in careless security had been left open and unprotected, the Jews had abundant evidence of the literal fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy concerning the sudden overthrow of their oppressors. And this should have been to them an unmistakable sign that God was shaping the affairs of nations in their behalf; for inseparably linked with the prophecy outlining the manner of Babylon's capture and fall were the words: PK 552.1

    “Cyrus, he is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 44:28; 45:13. PK 552.2

    Nor were these the only prophecies upon which the exiles had opportunity to base their hope of speedy deliverance. The writings of Jeremiah were within their reach, and in these was plainly set forth the length of time that should elapse before the restoration of Israel from Babylon. “When seventy years are accomplished,” the Lord had foretold through His messenger, “I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.” Jeremiah 25:12. Favor would be shown the remnant of Judah, in answer to fervent prayer. “I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:14. PK 552.3

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