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. 4 In any place where a survivor (Jewish exile) may live, let the men (Gentiles) of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with freewill offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.’”
Holy Articles Restored
5 Then the heads of the fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites, all those whose spirits God had stirred up, [d]arose to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. 6 All those who were around them encouraged them with articles of silver, with gold, with goods, with cattle, and with valuable things, in addition to all that was given as a freewill offering. 7 Also King Cyrus brought out the articles of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem [when he captured that city] and had put in the house of his gods. 8 And Cyrus, king of Persia, had Mithredath the treasurer bring them out, and he counted them out to [e]Sheshbazzar, the governor (leader) of Judah. 9 And they counted: 30 dishes (basins) of gold, 1,000 dishes of silver, 29 duplicates; 10 30 [small] gold bowls, 410 [small] silver bowls of a second kind, and 1,000 other articles. 11 All the articles of gold and of silver totaled 5,400. All these Sheshbazzar [the governor] brought up with the exiles who went from Babylon up to 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).
Ezra 1:5The Hebrew verb “to stand” or “arise” is often an instruction to get ready to fulfill a command, somewhat similar to the military command “attention.”
Ezra 1:8There is occasionally a debate over the identities of Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel. Sheshbazzar was an older Jewish official who was appointed by Cyrus and served in Judah (5:24). Zerubbabel was a younger man who was recognized as a political leader among the Jews. He was the son of Shealtiel and an ancestor of Jesus (5:2; Matt 1:12, 13).
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