Cyrus proclaims freedom. The Persians give them gifts.
NOTE. In 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem. He deported the tribe of Judah to Babylon. Later, on three separate occasions, some are permitted to return. This is the first return. Read more »
VERSE 1. Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the LORD’s word by Jeremiah’s mouth might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
the first year of Cyrus king of Persia. That is, 538 BC.
Cyrus is officially known as “King Cyrus II the Great.”
the LORD’s word. When rendered in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, “LORD” or “GOD” is the translation of God’s Proper Name.
by Jeremiah’s mouth. Jeremiah prophesied that the exile in Babylon would last for seventy years. Read more »
stirred up the spirit. This expression is sometimes paraphrased as “moved the heart.”
After the exile, the biblical authors often used that expression.
VERSE 2. “Cyrus king of Persia says, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he has commanded me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
The LORD. King Cyrus uses the Jewish name for the One God. Perhaps he has been influenced by the Israelites in his captivity.
God. The Hebrew word is אֱלֹהִ֑ים (“Elohim”).
the God of heaven. This title appears nine time in the Book of Ezra.
commanded me to build him a house in Jerusalem. The LORD God calls king Cyrus not only to return the Israelites people to their home, but also to rebuild their Temple!
VERSE 3. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD, the God of Israel (he is God), which is in Jerusalem.
VERSE 4. Whoever is left, in any place where he lives, let the men of his place help him with silver, with gold, with goods, and with animals, in addition to the free will offering for God’s house which is in Jerusalem.’ ”
let the men of his place help him. Cyrus asks his people to give donations to the Israelites.
with gold, with goods, and with animals. These are generous donations.
in addition to the free will offering. Separately, Cyrus launches a capital campaign. He is accepting donations to build the temple in Jerusalem.
VERSE 5. Then the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, all whose spirit God had stirred to go up, rose up to build the LORD’s house which is in Jerusalem.
Judah and Benjamin. These are the two tribes that have been in exile all these years.
VERSE 6. All those who were around them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with animals, and with precious things, in addition to all that was willingly offered.
All … strengthened their hands. The LORD God inspired their neighbors to give super-abundantly.
God can easily provide more than enough for us.
VERSE 7. Also Cyrus the king brought out the vessels of the LORD’s house, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought out of Jerusalem, and had put in the house of his gods;
the vessels of the LORD’s house. Before he destroyed the temple, Nebuchadnezzar robbed its precious artifacts.
Now Cyrus returns those precious artifacts to the Jewish people.
VERSE 8. even those, Cyrus king of Persia brought out by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.
Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. His identity is unclear. There are four main theories:
Theory 1. Sheshbazzar is a Persian name for Zerubbabel.
Theory 2. He was a Jewish main who was appointed governor by Cyrus, but who died shortly after arriving in Palestine and was replaced by Zerubbabel.
Theory 3. He was the Shenazzar in 1 Chronicles 3:17, and therefore was Zerubbabel’s uncle.
Theory 4. He was a Persian official who was sent to oversee the use of the king’s money and to make sure the king’s wishes were carried out.
VERSE 9. This is the number of them: thirty platters of gold, one thousand platters of silver, twenty-nine knives,
VERSE 10. thirty bowls of gold, four hundred ten silver bowls of a second kind, and one thousand other vessels.
VERSE 11. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand four hundred. Sheshbazzar brought all these up when the captives were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem.
five thousand four hundred. The total number of precious artifacts is 5,400.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.