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.