Daniel and Cyrus
When Cyrus conquered Babylon, he met the aged Daniel. The former King Nebuchadnezzar appreciated the wisdom of Daniel and trusted his counsel. And through Daniel, Cyrus learned about Isaiah’s prophecies concerning him and his chosen role on behalf of God’s people (Isa. 44:21 to 45:13). Therefore, Cyrus acted upon this knowledge and arranged for the restoration of the Jews. And the historian Josephus (Antiquities xi. 1) affirmed that Isaiah 44:28 was shown to Cyrus soon after Babylon’s fall.
The declaration of Cyrus
Cyrus declared, “the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:2). This declaration is a reference to the passage in Isaiah which says, “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” (ch. 44:28).
In the famous engraving on the clay barrel of Cyrus, now in the British Museum, this king declared, “He scanned and looked all the countries, searching for a righteous ruler willing to lead him. He pronounced the name of Cyrus, king of Anshan, declaring him to be the ruler of all the world.” Thus, Cyrus felt that the prosperity of his kingdom depended on his obedience to the heavenly command.
Cyrus’ belief in God
Some believe that Cyrus’ words “He is the God” (Ezra 1:3) is an announcement by him that Jehovah is the only true God. This announcement is similar to the confession of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:47; 3:28; 4:37) and Darius (Dan. 6:26). It maybe that Cyrus had come to see God as the true deity for the Almighty had the ability to foretell of the King’s name, reign, and what he will accomplish 150 years before his birth.
An understanding King
King Cyrus had an open mind and sympathy towards the people he governed. Thus, the king’s decree to restore the Jews and their temple was fully in agreement with what ultimately became a general plan in his kingdom and that of pleasing the nations that had been afflicted by the harsh rule of the Babylonians. Thus, Cyrus showed kindness to gain the favor and loyal support of the citizens in the new Persian Empire.
In His service,
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