Isaiah 41:2 and 25

New American Standard Bible 1995

………. ……………………………… 2 “Who has aroused one from the east Whom He calls in righteousness to His [a]feet? He delivers up nations before him And subdues kings. He makes them like dust with his sword, As the wind-driven chaff with his bow. ………. ………………………………

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25 “I have aroused one from the north, and he has come; From the rising of the sun he will call on My name; And he will come upon rulers as upon mortar, Even as the potter treads clay.” ………. ………………………………

Here is an interesting excerpt from ( https://biblehub.com/commentaries/isaiah/41-25.htm ) Barnes' Notes on the Bible

From the north - In Isaiah 41:2, he is said to have been raised up 'from the east.' Both were true. Cyrus was born in Persia, in the country called in the Scriptures 'the east,' but he early went to Media, and came from Media under the direction of his uncle, Cyaxares, when he attacked and subdued Babylon. Media was situated on the north and northeast of Babylon.

I might be making much ado about nothing. However, Barnes' Notes on the Bible’s excerpt above juxtapositions Isaiah 41:2 and 25 in order to deduce that God is “inspiring” Cyrus of Media and Persia to subdue neighboring kingdoms.

I searched the internet, and I found the following map:

enter image description here

( Map Credited Reference: https://www.jesuswalk.com/daniel/app2_medo-persian-empire.htm )

In said map, Persia’s region is sort of located East of Israel, and Media’s region is sort of located North of Israel.

I suppose Barnes' Notes on the Bible’s exegesis proposes an interesting conjoining literary technique.

However, is said Barnes' Notes on the Bible’s exegesis correct? Why isn’t there a verse in Isaiah 41 that just says northeast instead of resorting to this aforementioned conjoining literary technique of “north” and “east”?

  • 1
    Why isn't there indeed. Thanks for the map. + 1. Commented Feb 4 at 5:12

2 Answers 2


(Isaiah 41:2 & 25) "conjoining" literary technique of "north" & "east" to deduce that God "inspired" Cyrus of Media & Persia to conquer nations

Here we have the first of two instances of kings arising from North Eastern provinces, in order to conquer other territories. This first instance involves earthly/fleshly kings, whereas the second instance may involve that of the spiritual, and be in reference to Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, no less. Both instances, however, primarily involve God's "anointed" ones.

Isaiah 44:28, 45:1

"It is I (Jehovah) who says of Cyrus, 'he is My shepherd! And he will perform all my desire.' ......" 45:1 Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before him, and to loose the loins of kings; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:

The above verses came from the NASB, "Ryrie" study bible, 1978 ed., in which he appends the following foot note to 45:1 ....

anointed. Lit., messiah (cf. Cyrus' designation as shepherd in 44:28). This is an appropriate title for a heathen king for two reasons: Cyrus, as a temporal deliverer of God's people, serves as an illustration of Jesus Christ, the eternal Redeemer; and since vassal rulers were anointed by their superior rulers, Cyrus, as one who carried out God's purposes, could properly be said to be an anointed vassal. open doors. On the night the Persians (which included the "northern", lessor king, Darius the Mede) captured Babylon, some of the men entered on the dry river (Euphrates) bed and opened the gates to their armies from the inside.

Cyrus (from the eastern territories) had first conquered Media in 550 BC (a northern territory), and then (along with Darius) he conquered Lydia in 547 BC, and then Babylon in 539 BC. Thus, it can be said that Cyrus of Media & Persia conquered nations.

The "spiritual" aspect

So, we have already seen who the "earthly" kings were in 539 BC, in their conquest of Babylon, arising from the northeast but what of the possible, if not very plausible, "spiritual" kings, arising from what may amount to the "symbolic" eastern provinces.

Revelation 16:12

And the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the east.

On the face of it one can be excused for thinking that the armies of the nations of the "Orient" will be aided in their march towards Armageddon, but Armageddon is the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. Consequently, the all conquering kings must be none other than Jehovah God and, His "anointed", Jesus Christ, taking advantage of what amounts to a - supernatural drying up of the Euphrates river, in their supernatural quest to bring ... judgement against the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality. Rev, 17:1,2. This they do of course by again utilizing human rulers to turn on "Babylon the Great" and destroy her utterly - Rev, 17:16,17

Revelation 17:5

...and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH".


As to the conjoining effect, I am in agreement with the OP. Barnes may have been onto something but why the use of such an apparent "literary" technique. One verse in Isaiah 41 stipulating the singular word of "northeast" would have been so much less confusing.

  • This is an interesting connection, +1 Commented Feb 4 at 2:26
  • @HoldToTheRod - Thanks for your connection. Commented Feb 4 at 4:42

The prophets almost routinely describe the great hostile nations other than Egypt as "the north", and the simplest explanation, for me, is that their armies and any other travellers would be approaching Israel and Judah from the north, probably travelling past Damascus. In the absence of modern maps, that would be the only indicator available of the direction of distant countries.

"Smoke comes out of the north" Isaiah ch14 v31

"Out of the north evil will break forth" Jeremiah ch1 v14

"The princes of the north are there" Ezekiel ch32 v30

"You will come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north" Ezekiel ch38 v15

"The king of the north" Daniel ch11

"I will remove from you the northern army" Joel ch2 v20

"He will stretch out his hand against the north" Zephaniah ch2 v13

"Flee from the land of the north" Zechariah ch2 v6

"Those who go toward the north country have set my Spirit at rest" Zechariah ch6 v8

Of your two verses, "from the north" is the usual Judah perspective, but "from the east" may be a perception of the perspective of Babylon.

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