What is meant by "loose the loins of kings" in Isaiah 45:1?

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The term "loins" (in Hebrew, מתן) throughout the Bible often refers to some sort of strength when the loins were girded (see 2 Kings 4:29, for example), so loosening their loins would mean to weaken them. This could be interpreted completely in the figurative sense (simply making them weak, or removing them from power, how most translations render it), or it may be taken a bit more literally, and be understood as disarming these kings, or removing their weapons, as many of the translations here understand (see NIV, CSB, etc.).

This isn't exactly polite, and I do apologize if it is deemed offensive, but Bible teacher Chuck Missler addresses this phrase this way:

In Isaiah 44 and 45, God not only describes the ease with which Cyrus would enter the city with the "two leaved gates" (gates that were not even shut against the invaders!) but also notes that He would "loose the loins of kings" before Cyrus – a euphemism regarding the fear these kings would feel and the mess in their pants they'd make as a result.
-- Isaiah and Cyrus the Great (Koinonia House)

It seems, then, that the loosing or weakening of loins may refer to a physiological phenomenon which accompanies extreme (and in Belshazzar's case, warranted) fear.

  • Welcome to BH.SE! Please take the tour to get a feel for how the site functions. I have edited your answer to format the quote so it stands out from you own words, and fixed the link that ended up displaying a print dialog. – enegue Mar 23 at 2:47
  • There is a parallel passage that includes some other details such as being "bowed down" and experiencing something akin to "labor pains" that might lend credence to your idea (which was what I thought when I read it but for which I haven't found scholarly support): Isa 21:3 Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it. – Ruminator Mar 23 at 17:58
  • An even less "polite" image is found in the image of uncontrolled passing of gasses akin to a harp!: Isa 16:11 "Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh." My new favorite verse! – Ruminator Mar 23 at 18:00
  • Ruminator, I have never read these verses with this appreciation. ;) Thanks for sharing. – Gracelett Mar 24 at 19:58

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