The Decrees Of Cyrus and Darius
After the death of King Solomon, The United Kingdom of Israel was divided (see The Division Of Israel) into two independent kingdoms, The Northern Kingdom, known as "Israel," and The Southern Kingdom, known as Judah. In the 8th century BC, the LORD permitted the lawless kingdom of Israel to be conquered and taken into exile by the Assyrians (see Ancient Empires - Assyria); the "lost ten tribes" never returned (see The Galilee Captivity).
In the 6th century BC, the LORD (i.e. Christ - see 'The God Of The Old Testament' and 'Before Abraham Was, I AM') caused the kingdom of Judah to fall to the Babylonians (see Ancient Empires - Babylon), for the same reason that Israel fell about a century and a half earlier - they had turned their backs on the LORD and became a lawless law unto themselves. The difference between Israel and Judah however was that, for the purpose of the coming Messiah, the LORD permitted the return of the southern kingdom of Judah to their land after 70 years of exile in Bablyon, exactly as prophesied (see Jeremiah's Field). That occurred after the Babylonian empire had fallen to the Persians (today known as Iran).
"Let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel"
Cyrus was the Persian king (see Ancient Empires - Persia) through whom the LORD declared the time of Judah's return from exile.
"1:1 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,
1:2 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. 1:3 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.
1:4 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." (Ezra 1:1-4 KJV)
Darius was a later successor to Cyrus as king of Persia. He reiterated Cyrus' original decree at the time when the rebuilding of Jerusalem had started, but was not yet completed.
"6:1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. 6:2 And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written:
6:3 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; 6:4 With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king's house: 6:5 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.
6:6 Now therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be ye far from thence: 6:7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.
6:8 Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.
6:9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: 6:10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.
6:11 Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. 6:12 And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem.
I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed." (Ezra 6:1-12 KJV)
Fact Finder: Who were the two key Israelite leaders at the time of the rebuilding of Jerusalem?
See Ezra and Nehemiah