Cyrus, King of Persia

In our study of 2 Chronicles and Ezra we were introduced to the King of Persia,Cyrus. Cyrus is the historically documented King of the Persian empire. He conquered Babylon in 539 BC and thereby had control over the Jews that had been taken captive by the Babylonians.

One hundred and fifty years before he was born, Isaiah prophesied, through Isaiah (44:28-45:7) that Cyrus would send the captive Jews home again to Jerusalem. “Who says of Cyrus. He is My shepherd. And he shall preform all My pleasure. Saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built.’ And to the temple, ‘Your foundation shall last.’… To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held to subdue nations before him…I will go before you…that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.”
In the famous Cyrus cylinder, found in the foundations of a temple in Babylon. The edict is written that Cyrus sent all of the captive and displaced peoples home to build temples to their gods and pray for his welfare; much as Darius, does in Ezra 6:10 “That they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.”

There is an interesting history concerning Cyrus, the II, or Cyrus, the Great. His maternal grandfather, Astyages, was the king of the Medes. He sealed an alliance with the Persians by marrying his daughter, Mandane, to the king of the Persians’ son, Cambyses I, the passive son of Cyrus, the First. When Mandane was expecting her first child, (named later, Cyrus after his paternal grandfather) Astyages had a dream that is interpreted to mean that her child would depose him (Astyages). So, he commissioned a servant to kill the baby and replace it with a stillborn child, concealing the deed done to his daughter. The servant entrusted a shepherd to kill the child, who instead, raised the boy as his own son, never telling him of his royal parentage. At the age of ten, the deception was uncovered and Cyrus was returned to his mother to be raised as the son of Cambyses, who later becomes the king of Persia. It is an interesting story on a human level because of the intrigue, deception and even horrible punishments that were given out. But on a spiritual level it shows how God is not hampered by anything a mere human can do when He makes a plan.

Before he existed, God, called Cyrus by name. He preserved him alive, though a royal edict declared his death. He educated him to become a great, powerful king that cared for his citizens. He “put it in his heart” (2 Chr.36:22) to send the people home to rebuild the temple. Or as He says “Has commanded me to build Him a house in Jerusalem (2 Chr 36:23.) He had a plan and was powerful enough to work His plan, no matter the obstacle.

But God had other plans as well. This was just a small part of God’s overall plan for all of mankind. In sending Jesus into the world. There were 200-400 prophecies that God worked through all the circumstances to fulfill. In allowing Jesus to die for us, God overcame our most powerfully enemy, Satan; though for a moment Satan must have thought he had succeeded in thwarting God, it was in truth, Satan’s death knell.

But it was also our hope. Our only hope. Because our God made plans for us, because He is wise and powerful and can bring His plan to fruition, we have the hope of eternal life. Because we are the spiritual descendants of Israel (Gal.3:29) we can take comfort in this verse. Isaiah 43:1, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine.”