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The Cylinder confirms that Cyrus allowed captives in Babylon to return to their native lands, earning
him an honored place in Judaism.Cyrus the Great figures in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as the patron and deliverer of
the Jews. He is mentioned twenty-three times by name and alluded to several times more.  From these statements it appears
that Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, was the monarch under whom the captivity of the Jews ended, for in the first year of
his reign he was prompted by Yahweh to make a decree that the temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt and that such Jews as
cared to might return to their land for this purpose. Moreover, he showed his interest in the project by sending back with
them the sacred vessels which had been taken from the temple and a considerable sum of money to buy building materials with.
1 Cyrus in Babylon and the Jewish connection
2 External links
3 See also
 Cyrus in Babylon
and the Jewish connection
The personage of Cyrus the Great is unconditionally praised in the Jewish sources. It is likely
that, after the Persian conquest of Babylon, Cyrus had commenced his relationship with the Jewish leaders in exile, and
that he later was considered as a messiah sent by Yahweh. Daniel was in the favor of Cyrus, and it was in the third year
of Cyrus that he had the vision recorded in his tenth chapter.
Cyrus issued the
decree of liberation to the Jews, concerning which Daniel had prayed and prophesied. The edict of Cyrus for the rebuilding
of the Temple in Jerusalem marked a great epoch in the history of the Jewish people. However, some of the non-Jewish peoples
of Samaria hired counselors to frustrate the Jews from completing the rebuilding throughout the reign of Cyrus, Xerxes ('Ahasuerus'),
and Artaxerxes, until the reign of Darius. The work recommenced under the exhortations of the prophets, and when the authorities
asked the Jews what right they had to build a temple, they referred to the decree of Cyrus. Darius, who was then reigning,
caused a search for this alleged decree to be made, and it was found in the archives at Ecbatana, whereupon Darius reaffirmed
the decree and the work proceeded to its triumphant close.
A chronicle drawn up
just after the conquest of Babylonia by Cyrus, gives the history of the reign of Nabonidus ('Nabuna'id'), the last king of
Babylon, and of the fall of the Babylonian empire. In 538 BC there was a revolt in Southern Babylonia, while the army of Cyrus
entered the country from the north. In June the Babylonian army was completely defeated at Opis, and immediately afterwards
Sippara opened its gates to the conqueror. Gobryas (Ugbaru), the governor of Kurdistan, was then sent to Babylon, which surrendered
"without fighting," and the daily services in the temples continued without a break. In October, Cyrus himself arrived,
and proclaimed a general amnesty, which was communicated by Gobryas to "all the province of Babylon," of which he
had been made governor. Meanwhile, Nabonidus, who had concealed himself, was captured, but treated honourably; and when his
wife died, Cambyses II, the son of Cyrus, conducted the funeral. Cyrus now assumed the title of "king of Babylon,"
claimed to be the descendant of the ancient kings, and made rich offerings to the temples. At the same time he allowed the
foreign populations who had been deported to Babylonia to return to their old homes, carrying with them the images of their
gods. Among these populations were the Jews, who, as they had no images, took with them the sacred vessels of the temple.
Speculation abounds to the reasoning for Cyrus' release of the Jews from Babylon. One argument
being that Cyrus was a follower of Zoroaster, the monotheistic prophet: Zoroastrianism played a dominant religious role in
Persia throughout its history until the Islamic conquest. As such, he would feel a kindred spirit with the monotheistic Jews.
Another possibility is the magnanimous respect he is ascribed to have shown to the diverse beliefs and customs of the peoples
within his extended kingdom. As one example, upon the conquest of Babylon itself, it's recorded that he paid homage at the
temple of the Babylonian god Marduk - thereby gaining the support of the Babylonian people and minimizing further bloodshed.
While Jewish tradition, as described previously in Ezra1:1-8, indicates "the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue
this proclamation", in the Cyrus Cylinder pays homage to Marduk. This Babylonian document has been interpreted as referring
to the return the their homelands of several displaced cultural groups, one of which could have been the Jews:
From [Babylon] to Aššur and (from) Susa, Agade, Ešnunna, Zamban, Me-Turnu, Der, as far as the
region of Gutium, the sacred centers on the other side of the Tigris, whose sanctuaries had been abandoned for a long time,
I returned the images of the gods, who had resided there [i.e., in Babylon], to their places and I let them dwell in eternal
abodes. I gathered all their inhabitants and returned to them their dwellings. In addition, at the command of Marduk, the
great lord, I settled in their habitations, in pleasing abodes, the gods of Sumer and Akkad, whom Nabonidus, to the anger
of the lord of the gods, had brought into Babylon. (lines 30-33)
However, it has been argued that it must be referring
to people associated to the image's cult instead of deportees. Diana Edelman has pointed at the serious chronological difficulties
that arise when we accept that the Jews returned during the reign of Cyrus.
terms used by the author of Isaiah are reminiscent of certain passages in the Cyrus Cylinder:
Who roused from the cast him that victory hails at every step? Who presents him with nations, subdues kings to him?
His sword makes dust of them and his bow scatters them like straw. He pursues them and advances unhindered, his feet scarcely
touching the road. Who is the author of this deed if not he who calls the generations from the beginning? I, Yahweh, who am
the first and shall be with the last. (Isaiah 41:2-4)
Then the alliance between Cyrus and Yahweh is made explicit:
Thus says Yahweh to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he has taken by his right hand to subdue
nations before him and strip the loins of kings, to force gateways before him that their gates be closed no more: I will go
before you levelling the heights. I will shatter the bronze gateways, smash the iron bars. I will give you the hidden treasures,
the secret hoards, that you may know that I am Yahweh. (Isaiah 45:1-3)
^ 2 Chron 36:22-33; Ezra 1:1-8, Ezra 3:7; Ezra 4:3,5; Ezra 5:13-17, Ezra 6:3,14, Isaiah 44:28, Isaiah 45:1,13;
Daniel 1:21, Daniel 6:28, Daniel 10:1, and 1 Esdras 2.
^ a b Briant, P., From Cyrus to Alexander: a History of the Persian
Empire, (Trans. version), Indiana (2002), p.46.
^ Isaiah 45:1
^ Ezra 1:1-2
^ Daniel 9:3,25
^ The Cyrus Cylinder. Translation based on Cogan's, published in W.H. Hallo and K.L. Younger, The Context of
Scripture. Vol. II: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World (2003, Leiden and Boston).
^ A. Kuhrt, "The
Cyrus Cylinder and Achaemenid Imperial Policy", p. 86-87, in Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 25 (1983).
^ Diana Edelman, The Origins of the Second Temple: Persian Imperial Policy and the Rebuilding of Jerusalem (2005)
text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 and Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religion.