1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of Yahweh by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, Yahweh 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,

An house at Jerusalem v2

The decree of Cyrus, when it came, was the answer to prayer. After all, the House of Asaph had intreated God, that a man might arise to execute judgment upon Babylon, 5 but that this same man should order a return of the Jewish captives to rebuild God's house was more than they could ever have hoped for. 6

Already however, the hand of God had been at work, and Daniel in his old age was blessed to unfold to the astonished gaze of Cyrus the words of ancient prophecies which mentioned him by name. Showing him Isaiah's words, which had foretold his successful overthrow of Babylon, 7 the prophet was able to urge Cyrus to fulfil Isaiah's other mention of him, by giving effect to the restoration of Israel, even

"saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid". 8

Inspired by these words, Cyrus uttered his famous proclamation in the first year of his reign. His decree was consistent with the voice of prophecy, for not only did it encourage the return of the Jewish people to their homeland, but it also charged them to build a house for Yahweh Elohim of Israel in Jerusalem.

His words astonished the faithful, and none more so than those families whose lives had been centred on the temple where God would meet and commune with His people. There was a remnant stirred by this event, a group of dedicated men and women who would respond to the opportunity 9 despite the difficulties that lay ahead.

They needed only a champion, a leader who could take up the cause of the return, and in the providence of God a scion of the house of David arose to lead the way. In Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel the royal lines through Nathan and Solomon converged for the first time since David.

The first year of Cyrus became a year of destiny and deliverance for the people of God, as his proclamation for return was uttered, thrilling those who lived in Babylon but whose hearts were focused on Jerusalem.

6 Ezra 1:2,3.

7 Isaiah 45:1-3.

8 Isaiah 44:26-28.

9 Ezra 1:5.

Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 10

2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, Yahweh Elohim 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.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1852 

This Koresh (Cyrus the Persian King), we doubt not, was a representative man. His name, the part he played in the overthrow of the Assyrian and the restoration of the Jews, and the things which the Lord uttered concerning him, are strongly evidential that he was a typical person.

His name Koresh is compounded of the prefix k, pronounced kar, signifying comparison or resemblance, namely, as, as if, like; and the noun yoraish heir. Kah-yoraish "like the heir," contracted into Koresh, because of certain rules in the pointing with which it would be useless to trouble the reader.

It is to be remembered here that about 185 years before the fall of Babylon Yahweh gave the name of LIKE-THE-HEIR to the Persian who overthrew the Assyrian and delivered Israel...

He says concerning him,

'For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name; I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me"-Isa 45:4.

He also says of him,

"He is my Shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid"-Isa 44:28.

Then again he styles him "his Anointed," that is, his Christ-Isa 45:1. Can it be imagined that all these expressions found their full signification in the Persian Conqueror? No, we conclude rather that Yahweh named him Like-the-Heir, because he was to enact a similar part in regard to the first Babylon to that predetermined for Yahweh's Anointed Shepherd, "the Heir"-Matt 21:38; Heb 1:2, in respect to the last. The Persian was therefore officially like him.

11 All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.

The Christadelphian, Sept 1904 

The Book of Ezra covers a period of about eighty years.

In ancient times Ezra and Nehemiah formed one book. In the Vulgate they are called Esdras I. and II. It will be seen the opening verses of Ezra correspond with the closing verses of 2 Chron. The verses seem quite in place in both narratives.

Ezra was both a scribe and a priest. He was descended from Hilkiah (2 Chron. 34:14). There were three returns from the captivity: (1) Under Zerubbabel, whose name means scattered in Babylon; (2) under Ezra; (3) under Nehemiah. The land kept its sabbaths for 70 years. Cyrus sent forth heralds far and near. Perhaps Daniel had shown him Isaiah's prophecies.

In glad response to the royal decree, the chief of the fathers assembled those Jews who were minded to return. Many, as in our own day, were not minded to go back.

Zerubbabel is called Sheshbazzar-a Chaldean form of his name; and the Tirshatha (the feared), a title which is also applied to Nehemiah. Zerubbabel was of royal descent. The genealogy of Christ is traced back through him, both by Matthew and Luke. The sacred vessels and utensils were handed over to him-5,400 in number (the smaller things are not specifically mentioned).

The total Jews returning numbered 42,360 men, 7,337 servants and maids, and 200 singers, men and women, in all about 50,000 people. No details of the journey are given. We read next that it was in the seventh month Tisri, the most sacred of the months, that Joshua and Zerubbabel conjointly assembled the returned exiles and set up the altar upon its base (the old foundation still remained), and made the offerings on and from the first day of the month.

Neither the city wall nor the temple was yet rebuilt. It was very praiseworthy on their part. After this the temple plan was marked out and the foundations laid with great ceremony. We can appreciate the feelings of the new generation when they shouted for joy that now at last a house should be built for God. It seemed to promise permanent settlement. On the other hand, when the old generation thought of the past glories of the magnificent Temple of Solomon and its destruction, well might they weep.