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Cyrus the Messiah - The Historical Background to Isaiah 45-1

Cyrus the Messiah - The Historical Background to Isaiah 45-1

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Published by: Thomas "Hirudinea" Leech on Jul 13, 2012
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Harvard Divinity School
Cyrus the Messiah? The Historical Background to Isaiah 45:1Author(s): Lisbeth S. FriedSource:
The Harvard Theological Review,
Vol. 95, No. 4 (Oct., 2002), pp. 373-393Published by:
on behalf of the
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Accessed: 15/12/2010 14:27
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Cyrusthe Messiah? TheHistoricalBackgroundoIsaiah 45:1*
LisbethS.Fried
University of Michigan
Accordingto Isaiah45:1,Cyrusis YHWH'snointed,his Messiah:ThussaysYHWHo hisanointed,oCyruswhomItookbyhisrighthand.Scholars havelong disputedthispassage.Many agreewith CharlesTorreyandarguehatallreferencestoCyrusshouldberemoved as lateradditions;heprophethimselfdidnotwritethem.'Otherscholarsassert that the nameCyrusisoriginal,butadmonishtheir readers not tointerprethetitle "anointed"asmorethan wasintended.The actofanointingsimplyindicates acommission:Cyrusis toperformtheoffice of
king.2
Still others take a thirdpositionand assertthatreferences to
*Thispaperhas benefited fromconversationswith Baruch A.Levine,TikvaFrymer-Kensky,JohnD.W.Watts,DavidWeisberg,and Lester H.Cole,and from commentsby LloydM.Barre,RobertBayer,GaryBeckman,Charles D.Isbell,Victor(A.)Hurowitz,GeneMcGarry,he PersianPeriodGroupofSBL,andanonymousreviewers at HTR on earlierdrafts. Allerrors aremyown.'Charles C.Torrey,TheSecondIsaiah(NewYork:Scribner's,1928)3-52; idem,"Isaiah41,"HTR44(1951)121-36;James D.Smart,HistoryandTheologyin SecondIsaiah: ACommentaryonIsaiah35,40-66(Philadelphia:Westminster,1964)115-34;JurgenvanOorschot,VonBabelzumZion(NewYork: deGruyter,1993)88.
2Christopher
R.North,TheSecond Isaiah(Oxford:Clarendon,1964)150;RogerN.Whybray,Isaiah40-66(GrandRapids:Eerdmans,1975)104;KarlElliger,Jesaja40,1-45,7(BKATXI/1;Neukirchen-Vluyn:NeukirchenerVerlag,1978)492;John D. W.Watts,Isaiah34-66(WBC25;Waco,Tex.:WordBooks,1987)156;AnttiLaato,TheServantofYHWH ndCyrus:AReinterpreta-tionoftheExilicMessianicProgrammein Isaiah 40-55(Stockholm:Almqvist&Wiksell,1992);idem,AStarisRising:TheHistoricalDevelopment ofthe Old TestamentRoyalTheologyand theRiseoftheJewishMessianicExpectations(Atlanta:ScholarsPress,1997)173-85;HughG. M.HTR95:4(2002)373-93
 
374HARVARDTHEOLOGICALREVIEW
Cyrusare central to thetheoryofhistory presentedn theBookofIsaiah.3Cyrusisthepromisedredeemerof the Jews.Yet,even these scholarsarguethatCyrus'sanointingconfers atemporaryffice,anddoesnotevokeapermanent elationship;Cyrushasnot convertedtoYHWHism,ndthetitleshouldnot betranslated"Mes-siah."4omedoadmit hat heanointingdoes meantheend of the Davidicmonarchy,however.WhatGod oncedidthroughDavid,henow doesthroughCyrus.'Klaus Baltzerhasgone beyondpreviousinvestigatorsnstressingthatDeutero-Isaiahhas madeCyrusthe newDavid,and has transferredall thedignityofthe"anointedone"toaforeign
ruler.6
At the sametime,heagreesthatCyrus'sanoint-ingindicatesonlyatemporarymission to rebuildthetemple,to rebuild thecityofJerusalem,o release the77?1,and tosubdue rulers.Cyrus, althoughanointed,isnotkingofJudah,since theroyaltitle
"]b?
snotused. YHWHakesCyrus bythehand but does not seat him athisrighthand,ashedoestheDavidickingin Psalm110.Thus,likepreviousscholars,Baltzer seesCyrus'srole as limited.Moreover,Baltzer does notconsider thispositiveview ofCyrusto becontemporaneouswiththereignof thePersianmonarch.He sees itagainstthebackgroundof the worksofAeschylus(472 B.C.E.),Herodotus(484-430 B.C.E.),ndXenophon(430-354
B.C.E.),
whichalso exhibit apositiveview ofCyrus.Hedates Deutero-Isaiahtothe timeofNehemiah andarguesthat the reference toCyrusasMessiahimpliesalatent criticism of thepresentPersianemperor,ArtaxerxesI.Isuggestinstead that the Deutero-Isaianicwriterwroteas acontemporaryofCyrus,and that hewrote tolegitimizehim as the Davidicmonarch,heir to theDavidicthrone.Thelineof the Achaemenidkingswouldnow take theplaceoftheDavidides.7Thepurposeof thepaperistoexplorethis thesisandtoexplainthe historicalbackgroundof this event.
Williamson,"The Messianic Texts in Isaiah1-39,"inKingand MessiahinIsrael and the AncientNearEast(ed.J.Day;Sheffield: SheffieldAcademicPress,1998)238-70;BrevardS.Childs,Isaiah(Louisville:WestminsterJohnKnox,2000)353-54.3ClausWestermann,Isaiah40-66(OTL;Philadelphia:Westminster,1969)10, 159;GerhardvonRad,OldTestamentTheology(trans.D.M. G.Stalker;2vols.;UnitedKingdom:OliverandBoyd,1965)2:238-62;John L.McKenzie,Second Isaiah(AB;GardenCity: Doubleday,1968)lxvi;AntoonSchoors,I AmGodYourSaviour:AForm-CriticalStudy oftheMainGenresin Is.XL-LV(VTSup24;Leiden:Brill,1973)270;RheinhardG.Kratz,KyrosimDeuterojesaja-Buch(Tiubingen:Mohr,1991)15-17;Peter D.Miscall,Isaiah(Sheffield:Sheffield AcademicPress,1993)110;RainerAlbertz,AHistory ofIsraeliteReligionin the Old TestamentPeriod(trans.J.Bowden;2vols.;OTL;Louisville: WestminsterJohnKnox,1994)2:414;John N.Oswalt,The BookofIsaiah40-66(GrandRapids:Eerdmans,1998)197.4Westermann,Deutero-Isaiah, 160-61;Joseph Blenkinsopp,Isaiah40-55(AB;New York:Doubleday,2002)248-49.5E.g.,Westermann,Deutero-Isaiah, 160-61; Watts,Isaiah34-66,156.6KlausBaltzer,Deutero-Isaiah:ACommentaryon Isaiah 40-55(trans.M.Kohl;Hermeneia;Minneapolis:Fortress,2001)225.7SidneySmith,(IsaiahChaptersXL-LV:LiteraryCriticismandHistory[London:OxfordUni-versityPress, 1944]74)asserts,"IfCyruswasthe anointedofYHWH,he had taken theplaceof

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