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Isaiah 41

Chapter Forty-one:

Both the Oxford commentary (1033) and Barnes (79) suggest that the debate that God initiates in this chapter is modeled on that of a courtroom.  I believe that he is addressing the pagans[1] and the gods[2] that the pagans worship.

v. 3:  The image of this conqueror’s feet scarcely touching the path makes me think that he proceeds with ease and speed.  It is ironic that this image should be applied here to the conquests of Cyrus, a Persian, given that Daniel applies it to Alexander the Great, the Greek, in his conquest of Persia (Daniel 8:5).

v. 7:  By emphasizing the idolaters’ concern with stabilizing their idols, the writer intends to demonstrate how ridiculous idolatry is: it is the worshipers who support their gods rather than the other way around.  This reminds me of the story of the Dagon idol in 1st Samuel 5:1-5.

v. 21:  It is comforting to me that God groups himself with his people here.  (It must have been particularly comforting to the displaced and weak Jews during the Babylonian captivity.)  It is always we [God and his people] against them [those that oppose God].  The text reads, “Let them bring and tell us what is to happen.”

v. 22:  This challenge to “tell us the former things…so that we may consider them and know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come” reminds me of Nebuchadnezzar’s challenge to his wise men to tell him what he dreamed (the former things) before telling him the interpretation of the dream (the things to come).[3]  As Daniel himself admits, it is something that only God, or one inspired by God, could do.[4]


[1] “Listen to me in silence O Coastlands…” (41:1).

[2] “Tell us what is to come hereafter that we may know that you are gods” (41:23).

[3] Daniel 2:5-11.

[4] Daniel 2:27-28.  See also note on 48:3.

2 Responses to “Isaiah 41”

  1. […] [2] See note on 41:22. […]

  2. […] [2] See note on 41:22. […]

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