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In Isaiah 45:1, the versicle begins in the third person, i.e., the prophet is going to speak the message from God about Cyrus. But suddenly it changes to the first person (God speaking).

Isaiah 45:1 KJV

Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;

In Hebrew:

כֹּֽה־אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָה֘ לִמְשִׁיחוֹ֘ לְכ֣וֹרֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר־הֶֽחֱזַ֣קְתִּי בִֽימִינ֗וֹ לְרַד־לְפָנָיו֙ גּוֹיִ֔ם וּמָתְנֵ֥י מְלָכִ֖ים אֲפַתֵּ֑חַ לִפְתֹּ֚חַ לְפָנָיו֙ דְּלָתַ֔יִם וּשְׁעָרִ֖ים לֹ֥א יִסָּגֵֽרוּ:

So, in my view, the words "thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus" come from the prophet, and "whose right hand I have holden..." are God's word.

This makes me kind of confused. Can anyone explain to me why the text changes from third to first person so abruptly, without any grammatical signs?

The New Living Translation, like some other translations, puts the entire first sentence in the third person:

This is what the LORD says to Cyrus, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower.

Would this be the correct way to understand this sentence?

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1 Answer 1

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First, it is quite common for Hebrew narrative to suddenly change from 1st person to 3rd person.

Second, how else would the prophet report the words of God? Essentially, we have the prophet Isaiah saying:

This is what God say to Cyrus (his anointed): "I have held his right hand to subdue nations, etc ..."

It could not be said any other way.

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  • +1 Some translators get around the problem the way @Dottard suggests, by omitting the first person singular from the sentence. For example NCV - This is what the Lord says to Cyrus, his appointed king: “I hold your right hand and will help you defeat nations." Oct 13, 2023 at 2:53

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