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EZRA 1 – 2

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Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. 3 Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.
These events were the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jer 29:12-15
  • The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus
  • Cyrus was given his position of power by the providence of God
  • Cyrus was charged by God to build His house and he would do it by sending Jews back to Jerusalem
  • The rebuilding of God’s house would be funded by the Persians that were around Jerusalem
Cyrus Cylinder

“I returned to these sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris, the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which [used] to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I [also] gathered all their [former] inhabitants and returned [to them] their habitations” (Pritchard, 208).

Xenophon, a Greek writer who was contemporary with Cyrus and fought in his army, described the Persian ruler as psuchen philanthropotaton, i.e., as a humane, benevolent, loving soul (8.7.3; cf. 1.2.1).
“Of all the Persian monarchs, he was the one most distinguished for mildness and clemency; the one to whom the sufferings of a captive nation, torn violently from its home and subjected to seventy years of grievous oppression, would most forcibly have appealed” (1873, 194).
"The edicts of the great kings of Persia preserved in the cuneiform inscriptions ... usually begin with the acknowledgment that they owe their power to the god of Ahuramazda (Ormuzd), the creator of heaven and earth. In this edict, however, Cyrus expressly calls the God of heaven by His Israelite name Jahve (Jehovah), and speaks of a commission from this God to build Him a temple at Jerusalem. Hence, it is manifest that Cyrus consciously. entered into the purposes of Jahve (Jehovah), and sought, as far as he was concerned, to fulfill them."
“…stirred up the mind of Cyrus, and made him write throughout all Asia: ‘Thus says Cyrus the king: Since God Almighty has appointed me to be king of the habitable earth, I believe that he is that God which the nation of the Israelites worship; for indeed he foretold my name by the prophets, and that I should build him a house at Jerusalem, in the country of Judea.’
“This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken to him in a secret vision: ‘My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple.’ This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the Divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written…” (Antiquities 11.1.1-2).
Isaiah 45:1 "Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held -- To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: 2 'I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. 4 For Jacob My servant's sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
Isaiah 44:26 Who confirms the word of His servant, And performs the counsel of His messengers; Who says to Jerusalem, 'You shall be inhabited,' To the cities of Judah, 'You shall be built,' And I will raise up her waste places; 27 Who says to the deep, 'Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers'; 28 Who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, "You shall be built," And to the temple, "Your foundation shall be laid." '
The Cyrus Cylinder reveals that the Persian commander took the city of Babylon “without any battle”; the soldiers “strolled along, their weapons stowed away” (Pritchard, 207).
Ezra 1:5 Then the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 6 And all those who were around them encouraged them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered. 7 King Cyrus also brought out the articles of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and put in the temple of his gods;
8 and Cyrus king of Persia brought them out by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 This is the number of them: thirty gold platters, one thousand silver platters, twenty-nine knives, 10 thirty gold basins, four hundred and ten silver basins of a similar kind, and one thousand other articles. 11 All the articles of gold and silver were five thousand four hundred. All these Sheshbazzar took with the captives who were brought from Babylon to Jerusalem.
The leaders of Israel are given in (Ezra 2:2)
  • Those who returned according to families (Ezra 2:3-19)
  • The number of those who returned according to localities (Ezra 2:20-35)
  • The number of priests arranged according to their families (Ezra 2:36-39)
  • The number of Levites, likewise arranged according to their families (Ezra 2:40-42)
  • The families of the Nethinim (Ezra 2:43-54)
  • The families of "Solomon's servants" (Ezra 2:55-57)
  • Those who could not show their genealogy (Ezra 2:59-63).