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, that he made a proclamation ° throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.
And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.
 

1:2 Cyrus. Cyrus was prophetically named long before he was born (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1,13), presumably during or soon after the reign of King Hezekiah, about two hundred years before its fulfillment as recorded here by Ezra. In fact, this is one of the main arguments by those who say there were “two Isaiah’s,” with the second one writing the section beginning with Isaiah 40. This skeptical notion is invalid, however. The ancient Jewish scribes and other scholars, as well as the New Testament writers, indicate there was only one Isaiah. The New Testament writers quote from both divisions of Isaiah, referring both to the same prophet (e.g., Matthew 8:17, quoting Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 4:14-16, quoting Isaiah 9:1,2).

1:2 The LORD God of heaven. It is noteworthy that a heathen emperor, Cyrus the Great, had somehow come to recognize the fact that Jehovah Elohim, the God of the Jews, was actually the God of creation. It may be that the prophet Daniel, who (according to the Jewish historian Josephus) was Cyrus’ prime minister, led him to this conviction. Josephus relates that Daniel read to Cyrus the prophecy of Isaiah that gave his name and indicated he would enable the Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.

1:2 house at Jerusalem. Ezra 1:1-3 is essentially a quote of the final verses of II Chronicles (II Chronicles 36:22-23). This is one of the reasons why many believe that Ezra was the scribe who researched the old records of the various kings of Judah and then organized them into the books of Chronicles.

1:3 let him go up. The archeological discovery of the “Cyrus cylinder” showed that Cyrus—perhaps because of the divine prediction of the Jewish return as his special ministry—did the same for various other captive peoples in his empire. This clay cylinder on which was inscribed an account of the decree of Cyrus was found in the nineteenth century in present-day Iraq (ancient Babylonia). It not only described the capture of Babylon but also his permission for the peoples captured by the Babylonians to return to their homelands.


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