600.) Ezra 1

Cyrus the Great (ruler 559-530 BCE) founded the Persian Empire, reigning from the Aegean Sea to the Indus River. He was a beneficent king, allowing his subject peoples to return to their homelands and restore their places of worship.

Ezra 1 (Good News Translation)

Cyrus Commands the Jews to Return

1 In the first year that Cyrus of Persia was emperor,

King Cyrus of Persia took the city of Babylon without a battle in 539 BCE and began to reign as the emperor of Babylonia.

the Lord made what he had said through the prophet Jeremiah come true. He prompted Cyrus to issue the following command and send it out in writing to be read aloud everywhere in his empire:

2 This is the command of Cyrus, Emperor of Persia. The Lord, the God of Heaven, has made me ruler over the whole world and has given me the responsibility of building a temple for him in Jerusalem in Judah.3 May God be with all of you who are his people. You are to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is worshiped in Jerusalem.4If any of his people in exile need help to return, their neighbors are to give them this help. They are to provide them with silver and gold, supplies and pack animals, as well as offerings to present in the Temple of God in Jerusalem.

Remember how the Egyptians gave items of clothing and articles of gold and silver to the Israelites as the people of God left Egypt?

5 Then the heads of the clans of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and Levites, and everyone else whose heart God had moved got ready to go and rebuild the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem.

Psalm 127:1 (New International Version)

Unless the LORD builds the house,
   the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
   the guards stand watch in vain.

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6 All their neighbors helped them by giving them many things: silver utensils, gold, supplies, pack animals, other valuables, and offerings for the Temple.

7 Emperor Cyrus gave them back the bowls and cups that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem and had put in the temple of his gods.8 He handed them over to Mithredath, chief of the royal treasury, who made an inventory of them for Sheshbazzar, the governor of Judah,

Sheshbazzar’s name is Babylonian, but he was likely a Jewish official; some scholars believe Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel were the same person.

9-10as follows:

gold bowls for offerings    30
silver bowls for offerings    1,000
other bowls    29
small gold bowls    30
small silver bowls    410
other utensils    1,000

silver bowl with gold inlay, from Iran, 6th century BCE, now in the Miho Museum in Japan

11 In all there were 5,400 gold and silver bowls and other articles which Sheshbazzar took with him when he and the other exiles went from Babylon to Jerusalem.

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Music:

“He Is Lord” sung in Farsi, the most widely spoken Persian language.  Christianity has a long history in present-day Iran, although the situation presently is very difficult, as Christians are closely monitored, Bibles are confiscated, and Christian religious education is restricted (even within the churches).   Pray for the believers in Iran!

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Good News Translation (GNT)   Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Cyrus the Great.    http://listverse.com/2008/10/11/top-10-most-successful-military-commanders/
rebuilding the temple.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/nehemiah_rebuilding_jerusalem.jpg
silver bowl.    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3384/4638121772_ae46ae484c.jpg

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