1 Now in the [a]first year of [b]Cyrus king of Persia [that is, the first year he ruled Babylon], in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah [the prophet], the Lord stirred up (put in motion) the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying:
2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The [c]Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is God who is in Jerusalem.
Ezra 1:1Cyrus the Great captured Babylon in Oct 539 b.c. This was about seventy years after the first Hebrew captives were taken to Babylon.
Ezra 1:1Cyrus the Great established the Persian Empire and ruled from 559-530 b.c. His kingdom extended from Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east, covering most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia. He was a great soldier as well as a wise and benevolent king, whose respect for religious freedom led to the return of the Hebrew captives to Jerusalem. Ancient historians report that the tomb assumed to be his was visited by Alexander the Great (356-323 b.c.) when he conquered Persepolis in 330 b.c. The tomb still exists among the ruins of Pasargadae in modern Iran.
Ezra 1:2It is remarkable that Cyrus actually used God’s special name, the tetragrammaton YHWH (traditionally rendered “Lord”). Certainly Cyrus recognized the true God, but he probably considered Him as one of a number of existing gods, as was typical for a polytheist. For Cyrus God of heaven probably meant just that, along with God of Israel and the God who is in Jerusalem (v 3).
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