In the OT reading, Isaiah 45:1-7, God anoints the Persian king Cyrus II as his temporary Messiah who will conquer Babylon in 539 BC and free Israel to return to Judah and rebuild Jerusalem. As God had led his people Israel so now God will take Cyrus by his right hand.
God will go before Cyrus, “I shall break down the bronze gates and cut through the iron bars.”
The gate was the weak spot in the walls surrounding a city. The road to the city gate was often set at an indirect angle. Some approaches came from the right of the gate forcing enemy soldiers to fight with their right arms against the wall. This led to the development of corps of left handed soldiers.
The entryway of the gate would be narrowed with walls protruding into the path of those entering. Rooms may have been built between these protruding walls giving defenders protection as they shot arrows into the mass of attackers. The gates themselves were covered with bronze to make them more solid and fireproof. Iron bars inserted across the gates provided more strength and protection.
However, when Cyrus’ Persian army surrounded Babylon in 539, the priests of the god Marduk opened the gates and declared Cyrus Marduk’s chosen king. But, it was Yahweh, God of Israel, whom Cyrus did not know, who had brought about Babylon’s downfall, all to serve his people Israel.
- 7, “I make the light, I create the darkness; author alike of wellbeing and woe, I the Lord, do all these things.”