The first part of Chapter 45 presents the Lord’s instructions to Cyrus, who would free the captives of Israel and finance the rebuilding of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. The chapter continues the prophecy begun in the final 3 verses of Chapter 44. The Jews were taken captive by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. Babylon was subsequently conquered by Cyrus, a Persian, who diverted the waters of the Euphrates away from the city and marched with his armies in the dry river bed under the walls of the city.1 The writings of Isaiah—written over 130 years before the time of Cyrus and yet containing his name, both here and in the previous chapter2—must have played a significant role in the freeing of captive Judah and in convincing Cyrus to do these things. The chapter concludes with the Lord’s attestation that He alone is God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Through Him, the means for salvation will be provided for all mankind. In the end every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will swear, or confess,3 that He is God.
In verses 1 through 7 the Lord speaks to Cyrus, explaining that although Cyrus had not known Him, the Lord provided great blessings for him. Verse 1 proclaims: “Thus saith the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him.” 4 The Lord declares that He has supported Cyrus in his previous conquests. Verse 1 continues: “and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.” The Great Isaiah Scroll reads “to open before him doors….”5 “His anointed” comes from the Hebrew, meaning “messianic prince.”6 Thus, Cyrus as a military conqueror is a type for Christ in His role as destroyer of the wicked before His Second Coming. Also, Cyrus’ liberating the Jews from their Babylonian captivity is a type for Christ’s freeing mankind from the bondage of sin and death. “Two leaved gates” means “double doors,”7 as in the protective gates of a city under siege. The phrase “loose the loins of kings” means that the Lord would disarm, or figuratively remove the weapons from the belts of kings, to make it easy for Cyrus to conquer them. This statement means the opposite of “gird up your loins,”8 or prepare yourselves for battle. The method used by the Lord to intervene in favor of Cyrus is revealed in this phrase.
In verse 2, the Lord proclaims that He will yet support Cyrus: “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” The Great Isaiah Scroll reads “I will go before thee, and level the mountains….”19 Military conquests of “mountains,” meaning “nations,”10 would be made easy for Cyrus; the Lord would prepare the way for him.
Verse 3 promises: “And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” “The treasures of darkness” means treasures in secret places, specifically meaning Babylon.11 The Lord proclaims that He is the God of Israel—a people held captive by Cyrus and his predecessors, the Babylonians whom Cyrus had conquered—and calls Cyrus by name through the prophet Isaiah.
The Lord, in modern revelation to Joseph Smith, proclaims that He controls the destinies of armies: “For have I not the fowls of heaven, and also the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the mountains? Have I not made the earth? Do I not hold the destinies of all the armies of the nations of the earth?”12
In the Book of Mormon, the resurrected Lord proclaims that He, Jesus Christ, is the God of Israel and of the whole world:
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world (emphasis added).13
The Nephites to whom Christ appeared were given an unsurpassed opportunity to know that He is the God of Israel, as He proclaimed to Cyrus through the prophet Isaiah.
Verses 1 through 3 contain a chiasm:
A: (1) Thus saith the LORD to his anointed,
B: to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him;
C: and I will loose the loins of kings,
D: to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
E: (2) I will go before thee,
E: and make the crooked places straight:
D: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
C: (3) And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD,
B: which call thee by thy name,
A: am the God of Israel.
The message of this chiasm is that Cyrus would be privileged to conquer many nations and acquire their wealth. “Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden” complements “which call thee by thy name;” “I will loose the loins of kings” is complemented by “I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places,” providing an explanation of meaning; and “I will go before thee” compares with “make the crooked places straight.”
In verse 4, the Lord proclaims the reason for His calling Cyrus by his name: “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.” Cyrus was appointed to perform a matter of great importance for the Lord’s servants, the descendants of Israel.
Verses 3 and 4 contain a chiasm:
(3) And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places,
A: that thou mayest know that I, the LORD,
B: which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
C: (4) For Jacob my servant’s sake,
C: and Israel mine elect,
B: I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee,
A: though thou hast not known me.
This chiasm explains why the Lord revealed to Isaiah the name of Cyrus many years before his time. “That thou mayest know” contrasts with “though thou hast not known me;” and “which call thee by thy name” corresponds to “I have even called thee by thy name.” The Lord revealed Cyrus’ name to Isaiah so that Cyrus would know that the Lord had appointed him to liberate the captives of Israel. Because of overlapping of this chiasm with that of verses 1 through 3, the phrases “which call thee by thy name” and “I have even called thee by thy name” are equivalent to “Cyrus” in verse 1.
In verses 5 and 6 the Lord proclaims that He is God and there are no other gods. Verse 5 commences: “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.”14 “I girded thee” means that the Lord had prepared Cyrus for battle.15 This the Lord did although Cyrus had not known Him or the Plan of Salvation.
In verse 6, the Lord explains that He, the Lord, would be glorified throughout all the earth because of Cyrus’ actions: “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.”16 The God of Israel is the only true God.
In verse 7, the Lord proclaims that He is the Creator: “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” In “create darkness” the Lord refers to His having separated the light from the darkness: “And God saw the light that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”17
In “create evil,” the Lord refers to His providing a choice between good and evil. Moroni explains: “For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night (emphasis added).”18
In verse 8, the Lord foretells the restoration of the gospel and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon: “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.” The Lord declares to Cyrus that as part of His role as Creator, He establishes and re-establishes truth and righteousness on the earth.
“Drop down, ye heavens, from above” means that heavenly messengers would come to restore divine knowledge and power to the earth. Compare John the Revelator’s prophecy of the restoration:
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.19
“Let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together” refers to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Compare Isaiah’s words foretelling this event:
And thou [Ariel, or the Nephites] shalt be brought down, and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust (emphasis added).20
The record of the Nephites, hidden anciently in the earth by Moroni, came forth from the earth as the speech of those long since dead.
Verses 7 and 8 contain a chiasm:
A: (7) I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
B: (8) Drop down, ye heavens, from above,
C: and let the skies pour down righteousness:
D: let the earth open,
D: and let them bring forth salvation,
C: and let righteousness
B: spring up together;
A: I the LORD have created it.
In this chiasm the Lord proclaims that He is the Creator and source of all righteousness. “I the LORD do all these things” is equivalent to “I the LORD have created it;” “let the earth open” matches “let them bring forth salvation.” The Book of Mormon, as if speaking from the dust of the earth, would bring forth the knowledge of salvation.
Verse 9 decrees woes upon those who rebel against God: “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” The Great Isaiah Scroll reads “…thy work hath no human hands?”21 Do we, as God’s creations, deny His existence and claim there is no Creator? Even the potsherds—broken fragments of clay pots—provide rich clues regarding the civilizations, or human hands, that created them. Just as well might they argue among themselves as we might argue about whether there is a divine Creator.
Verse 10 provides a stark comparison: “Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?” Our questioning whether God created us is like our posing such inane questions to our earthly parents.
Verse 11 describes the Lord’s omniscience, again addressing Cyrus: “Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” The Lord knows all about His creations; here He challenges Cyrus—whom He created—to ask Him anything that will convince him that the Lord is the Creator of all, including the human family.
Verse 12 explains further: “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.”22 The Lord is Creator of heaven and earth. The Lord reiterates in modern revelation: “I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine.”23 The earth and its contents are the Lord’s because He is their Creator. We have a duty of stewardship over the Lord’s creations, rather than ownership. Earlier, in Chapter 42, Isaiah proclaimed: “Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.”24
Verse 13 declares Cyrus’ mission, with the Lord now shifting to the third person singular: “I have raised him [Cyrus] 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.” Cyrus is commanded by the Lord to release the captive Israelites and rebuild their city, not expecting financial gain. Prisoners or slaves were a financial asset and were normally exchanged or released for value or other advantage; here Cyrus is instructed by the Lord not to seek financial reward.
In Verse 14 the Lord continues His instructions to Cyrus, now shifting back to the second person singular: “Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.” Egypt, Ethiopia, and an Arab tribe called the Sabeans25 would provide labor and materials to Cyrus. All would acknowledge that the Lord was with Cyrus. Their being “in chains” means that the Lord would substitute the involuntary status of the Jews for that of the named nations and tribes, thus offsetting the financial consideration. The phrase “there is none else, there is no God” means “there is no other God.”
Verses 12 through 14 contain a chiasm:
A: (12) I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. (13) I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways:
B: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives,
C: not for price nor reward,
D: saith the LORD of hosts.
D: (14) Thus saith the LORD,
C: The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee;
B: in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying,
A: Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.
In this chiasm the Lord promises Cyrus “the labor of Egypt and the merchandise of Ethiopia” if he will allow Judah to go free. “I have made the earth, and created man upon it” complements “surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.” “Captives” matches “in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee,” designating that others would take the place of the Jews whom Cyrus would free; and “not for price nor reward” corresponds to “the labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia,” designating how the Lord would repay Cyrus for his having freed the Jews.
In verse 15, the prophet Isaiah exults: “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.” The Lord’s benevolence in providing for Jerusalem to be rebuilt under the circumstances described in the previous verses is reason for Isaiah’s praise. Here Isaiah also refers to the Lord as the “God of Israel” and “the Saviour,” foretelling the Lord’s central role in the Atonement. The Lord conceals Himself from the world in general, manifesting Himself only to those who approach Him in faith and righteousness.
Verse 16 condemns those that worship false gods: “They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.”
In verse 17, the prophet foretells salvation for repentant Israel: “But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” The Lord describes Israel’s salvation in modern revelation: “And from thence, whosoever I will shall go forth among all nations, and it shall be told them what they shall do; for I have a great work laid up in store, for Israel shall be saved, and I will lead them whithersoever I will, and no power shall stay my hand.”26
The phrase “world without end” is also used by Paul in the New Testament,27 and its variation “worlds without end” occurs once in Doctrine and Covenants.28 In all three instances the meaning is the same. The phrase refers to God the Father’s work, unceasing throughout eternity, of creating and populating numberless worlds, as He described unto Moses:
And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten….
But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.29
Verse 18 proclaims: “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.” The Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, is the only God. His creation of the earth is for a specific purpose—to be inhabited by His children.
Nephi paraphrased verse 18: “Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.”30
Verses 15 through 18 contain a chiasm:
A: (15) Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.
B: (16) They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.
C: (17) But Israel shall be saved
D: in the LORD
C: with an everlasting salvation:
B: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
A: (18) For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens….
In this chiasm Isaiah identifies Jehovah as the same who would come and save His people. “Thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour” matches “for thus saith the LORD [Jehovah, in the Hebrew] that created the heavens.” The phrase “I am the LORD; and there is none else” in verse 18 is also chiastically equivalent.31
In verse 19, the Lord proclaims: “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”32 The Lord does not work in secret; rather, He manifests Himself to His prophets through the ages.33 Nor do the descendants of Jacob seek Him in vain; the Lord deals only in truth and righteousness. In the preface to Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord stated: “And again, verily I say unto you, O inhabitants of the earth: I the Lord am willing to make these things known unto all flesh; For I am no respecter of persons, and will that all men shall know….”34
Verses 20 through 25 proclaim that Israel would be gathered and saved through the Atonement of Christ. Verse 20 declares: “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.” The Great Isaiah Scroll reads “…draw near together and come, ye that are escaped of the nations….”35 “Assemble yourselves and come” is the Lord’s call to all Israel in the latter days. “Escaped of the nations” means those who have left behind the evil practices and beliefs of the world, spiritually seeking to gather to Zion. Idolaters have no knowledge.
Verse 21 continues: “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.”36 The Lord has declared these things from ancient times; He is just and will provide the means for salvation. There is no other God beside Him.
In verse 22 the Lord proclaims that salvation comes only through Him: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” “All the ends of the earth” means people from every remote part of the earth.37
In verse 23, the Lord attests: “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” Paul quotes this verse in the New Testament: “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”38
The word “genuflect” comes from the Latin, as represented in this verse. Genu means “knee,” and flectere means “to bend.”39 The Lord’s statement “I have sworn by myself” is the most solemn and binding of oaths that is possible under any circumstances.40
Alma the younger, following his miraculous conversion, expounded upon this passage from Isaiah. Far from being a promise of universal salvation unto all who confess the Lord’s name, it more fully condemns the sinner:
Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye (emphasis added).41
Acknowledgment by the wicked that the Lord is God does not imply repentance, forgiveness or discipleship.
Verses 24 and 25 summarize. Verse 24 states: “Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.” In the Lord, each of us can find righteousness and strength; but all those who are incensed, or angry, with the Lord will be left ashamed. Nephi expounded upon these principles:
And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them….42
Verse 25 concludes: “In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” “Justified” means having been judged and found worthy of the Lord’s blessings and exaltation.
Verses 22 through 25 contain a chiasm:43
A: (22) Look unto me,
B: and be ye saved,
C: all the ends of the earth:
D: for I am God, and there is none else.
E: (23) I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return,
F: That unto me every knee shall bow,
F: every tongue shall swear.
E: (24) Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.
D: (25) In the LORD
C: shall all the seed of Israel
B: be justified,
A: and shall glory.
The message of this chiasm is that in the Savior, all the ends of the earth can be saved and all will acknowledge that He is God. “Be ye saved” is the same as “be justified;” “all the ends of the earth” amplifies “all the seed of Israel;” “I have sworn by myself” is matched by “surely;” “the word is gone out of my mouth” is equivalent to “shall one say;” “in righteousness” is matched by “in the LORD have I righteousness and strength;” and “shall not return” is contrasted by “to him shall men come.” “Every knee shall bow” matches “every tongue shall swear.”
1. Pat Alexander (Organizing Editor), The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible: Lion Publishing Co., 1987 ed., p. 296. See also Franklin L. West, Discovering the Old Testament: Deseret Publishing Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1959, p. 442.
2. See Isaiah 44:28.
3. See Romans 14:11; Philippians 3:10; Mosiah 27:31; Doctrine and Covenants 88:104.
4. Verse 1 contains a chiasm: Before him/I will loose/to open/before him. In Donald W. Parry, Harmonizing Isaiah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 2001, p. 262.
5. Parry, 2001, p. 182.
6. F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon: Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA, 01961-3473, 1996, Strong’s No. 4899, p. 603.
7. Isaiah 45:1, footnote 1e.
8. See Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985, Hymn no. 30, “Come, come, ye saints,” verse 1.
9. Compare Parry, 2001, p. 182.
10. See Isaiah 2:2, 14 and pertinent commentary; see also 2 Nephi 12:14.
11. Brown et al., 1996, Strong’s No. 2822, p. 365; see also Isaiah 45:3, footnote 3a.
12. Doctrine and Covenants 117:6.
13. 3 Nephi 11:14.
14. Verses 4 and 5 contain a chiasm: Though thou hast not known me/the LORD/there is none else/there is no/God/ though thou hast not known me.
15. See verse 1 and pertinent commentary.
16. Verses 5 and 6 contain a chiasm: I am the LORD, and there is none else/there is no God beside me/from the rising of the sun/from the west/there is none beside me/I am the LORD, and there is none else.
17. Genesis 1:4.
18. Moroni 7:15.
19. Revelation 14:6-7.
20. Isaiah 29:4.
21. Parry, 2001, p. 183.
22. Verses 11 and 12 contain a chiasm: The LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker/ask me/concerning my sons/concerning the work of my hands/command ye me/I have made the earth, and created man upon it.
23. Doctrine and Covenants 104:14.
24. Isaiah 42:5; see Isaiah 40:28; 41:20; 42:5; 44:24; Moses 1:33; 4:2.
25. Bible Dictionary—Sabeans.
26. Doctrine and Covenants 38:33.
27. See Ephesians 3:21.
28. See Doctrine and Covenants 76:112.
29. Moses 1:33, 35.
30. 1 Nephi 17:36.
31. Verse 18 contains a chiasm that overlaps that of verses 15 through 18: The LORD that created the heavens/formed the earth/he hath established it/he created it not in vain/he formed it to be inhabited/I am the LORD.
32. Verse 19 contains a chiasm: I have not spoken in secret/I said not/seek ye me/I the LORD/speak/I declare things.
33. See Amos 3:7.
34. Doctrine and Covenants 1:34-35.
35. Parry, 2001, p. 185.
36. Verses 20 and 21 contain a chiasm: Assemble yourselves/draw near/ye that are escaped/set up the wood of their graven image/pray unto a god that cannot save/tell ye/bring them near/take counsel together.
37. See Isaiah 42:10; 43:6; 52:10.
38. Romans 14:11.
39. Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language: Elsevier Publishing Company, New York, 1971, p. 308.
40. See Isaiah 49:18 and pertinent commentary.
41. Mosiah 27:31.
42. 1 Nephi 17:3.
43. Compare Parry, 2001, p. 262.