1 Now in the first year of [a]Cyrus king of Persia [almost seventy years after the first Jewish captives were taken to Babylon], that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might begin to be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and put it also in writing:
2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem in Judah.
3 Whoever is among you of all His people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, in Jerusalem; He is God.
4 And in any place where a survivor [of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews] sojourns, let the men of that place assist him with silver and gold, with goods and beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.
5 Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites, with all those whose spirits God had stirred up, to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.
6 And all those who were around them aided them with vessels of silver, with gold, goods, beasts, and precious things, besides all that was willingly and freely offered.
7 Also Cyrus the king brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought from Jerusalem [when he took that city] and had put in the house of his gods.
8 These Cyrus king of Persia directed Mithredath the treasurer to bring forth and count out to Sheshbazzar [who is Zerubbabel, recognized as the legitimate heir to the throne of David] the prince of Judah.
9 And they numbered: 30 basins of gold; 1,000 basins of silver; 29 sacrificial dishes;
10 Of gold bowls, 30; another sort of silver bowl, 410; and other vessels, 1,000.
11 All the vessels of gold and of silver were 5,400. All these Sheshbazzar [the governor] brought with the people of the captivity from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Ezra 1:1Cyrus, a heathen ruler of a heathen empire (Persia), was “twice named [before his birth] in the book of Isaiah as anointed of God and predestined to conquer kings and fortified places and to set the Jews free from captivity (Isa. 44:28; 45:1-14). Daniel... records that during the night that followed a great feast, Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, was slain, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom (Dan. 5:30, 31). Darius was the predecessor of Cyrus, or his regent, in Babylonia (Dan. 6:28)” (John D. Davis, A Dictionary of the Bible). God gave Cyrus the resolution and the desire to execute His intention. That the Lord at this time chose a heathen as His instrument was in accordance with the new position that the empires of the world were henceforth to assume toward the kingdom of God (J.P. Lange, A Commentary).
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