Bible Review 19:5, October 2003

Cyrus the Messiah

Why Isaiah calls a non-Jewish king of Persia Israel’s anointed one

By Lisbeth S. Fried

The Persian emperor Cyrus is honored as the only foreigner in the Bible to be identified as the “messiah” or “anointed one” of YHWH, the Israelite God.1 Isaiah tells us that YHWH spoke “to his messiah, to Cyrus, whom I [YHWH] took by his right hand to subdue nations before him” (Isaiah 45:1).

The title messiah means “anointed.” It is an anglicization of the Hebrew meshiach (jyvm). In Greek it is rendered Christos (cristos)—English “Christ.”

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