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Cyrus

Cyrus, from the Hebrew (pronounced) koe-resh, was the name of a great Persian king (see Ancient Empires - Persia) who ruled over the conquered Babylonian empire (see Ancient Empires - Babylon), thereby eventually allowing the exiled-to-Babylon people of Judah (see Why Babylon?) to return to Jerusalem in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Although Cyrus was, by nature, a geopolitically-covetous, and hence war mongering, king bent on conquest, he was, as the Bible plainly states, specifically used by God for that purpose, just as numerous others have at "course adjustment" times of history (e.g. God used the pagan Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar not only for Judah's prophesied exile, as explained in "Why Babylon" above, but also to deliver one of the most detailed prophecies of the Bible, see Nebuchadnezzar's Dream).

For God, Prophecy isn't as much about having the ability to predict the future as it is about having the power to make things happen, anytime, anywhere, i.e. "Blessed be the Name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: And He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings" (Daniel 2:20-21 KJV)

Persian Empire Map

Cyrus

Cyrus is first mentioned in the last 2 verses of 2 Chronicles and the first 3 verses of Ezra (which are the same, being a continuation) in which The Lord "stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia" so "that the word of The Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished" (i.e. God didn't just predict future events, He directly made prophecy happen):

"Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of The Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, 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, All the kingdoms of the earth hath The Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up." (2 Chronicles 36:22-23 KJV)

"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." (Ezra 1:1-3 KJV)

Cyrus took possession of the items that had been looted from the Temple in Jerusalem (see Temples and "My Father's House") by the Babylonians, so they were returned with the people of Judah, as stated in the Scriptures. If the Ark of the Covenant had been looted from the Temple along with all of the other items, it would have been returned at that time - but it wasn't returned because the Ark never left Jerusalem - see Raiders Of The Lost Ark:

"Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of The Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah" (Ezra 1:7-8 KJV)

Cyrus provided all the necessary finances and materials for the rebuilding of Jerusalem:

"They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia." (Ezra 3:7 KJV)

After Darius succeeded Cyrus "the king of (conquered) Babylon," Cyrus' decree was carried out:

"But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the Temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the Temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place."

"Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished. Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter." (Ezra 5:13-17 KJV)

The Restoration:

"In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king's house."

"And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the Temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the Temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God." (Ezra 6:3-5 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) Did God use the pagan king Cyrus for God's purpose? (b) Did God use Cyrus for the sake of Israel, even though Cyrus was not a believer, even though Cyrus "did not acknowledge" God?
(a) Isaiah 44:28 (b) Isaiah 45:1,4


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