Which prophecies did Ezra refer to in chapter one?

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In chapter one of his book, Ezra referred to the prophecies of Jeremiah. For he said, “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, …” (Ezra 1:1).

God had influenced heathen rulers (Genesis 20:3; Daniel 2:28; etc.) to carry out His purposes. And now He worked on the heart of Cyrus to fulfill the prophecies of Jeremiah.

The prophecies of Jeremiah

“And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation” (Jeremiah 25:11,12).

“For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10).

These two prophecies convinced Daniel the prophet that the time of return and restoration had come. For he wrote, “I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2).

Since the Babylonian captivity had started in 605 b.c. (Daniel 1:1), the 70 years of Jeremiah’s prophecies were to be fulfilled in 536, based on inclusive reckoning (Jewish measuring of time). Therefore, if the order of Cyrus was decreed in the summer or autumn of 537, and the Jews possibly returned to their homeland in the spring of the next year, 536, this would fulfill the prophecies of Jeremiah the prophet.

Isaiah prophecies about Cyrus

Interestingly, the Lord also gave the prophet Isaiah prophecies concerning Cyrus. These prophecies mentioned him by name, a century and a half before his birth, and foretold of his work in liberating the Jews. God directed the course of events so that Cyrus would have a chance to learn about Him as the true God and as the One who had given him his mission (Ezra 1:2). Here are the prophecies:

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” (Isaiah 44:28)

“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…” (Isaiah 45:1-4,13).

Josephus (Antiquities xi. 1) states that this prophecy was shown to Cyrus soon after Babylon’s fall. Daniel was probably the one that told the king concerning the predictions of Cyrus’ defeat of Babylon and his work in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s Temple.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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