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Cyrus Cylinder display in the British Museum
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The Cyrus Cylinder and Bible Prophecy

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Cyrus Cylinder display in the British Museum

 

Who is Cyrus of the Bible and What is the Cyrus Cylinder?

The Cyrus mentioned in the Bible is Cyrus the Great (ca.600 – 529 BCE). He was a towering figure in the history of mankind. As the “father of the Iranian nation”, he was the first world leader to be referred to as “The Great”. Cyrus founded the first world empire after defeating the Median dynasty and uniting the Medes with the other major Iranian tribe, the Persians. He is the originator of Cyrus Cylinder, a significant historical artifact that corroborates the Bible.

From a Biblical point of view, King Cyrus was an extremely important person because God used him to destroy the Babylonian empire. Thus bringing a close to the seventy-year punishment inflicted on the Jews by God for their rebellion against Him.

The Cyrus Cylinder is a barrel-shaped cylinder made of clay discovered by the Assyro-British archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam in March 1879. It dates from the 6th century BC in the ruins of Babylon in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).

It is currently housed in Room 55 of the British Museum in London. What is interesting to note is the text on this cylinder.
The text which was written in Babylonian script mentions the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 539 BC. The declarations were made by Cyrus himself. The British Museum has translated this in English and you can read it on their website.

What is mentioned on the Cyrus Cylinder?

The Cyrus cylinder is a record of the declaration made by Cyrus after his invasion of Babylon.

The key points from Cyrus’s declaration are summarized below:

1. Marduk the king of the gods was angry with Nabonidus the king of Babylon because of his desecration of the temples of the gods.

2. The king of Babylon did more and more evil every day against God.

3. The great Lord was angry because the King of Babylon had taken away the rituals and offerings which were offered in their temples.

4. The king of Babylon kept people in bondage and slavery.

5. God had pity on the slaves of Babylon because he cares for his people and God was looking for an upright king whom he could use to deliver them.
Cyrus claimed that God chose him because God called him by name and that God was by his side as a friend and companion.

6. God helped Cyrus to capture Babylon and handed over the king of Babylon to him without any fight or battle.

7. God helped Cyrus liberate the people from their hardship but Cyrus acknowledged that they were saved because of their trust in God.

8. At the command of God Cyrus sent all the captives of Babylon back to their cities and helped rebuild their broken down sanctuaries and places of worship.

9. Cyrus presents himself as a savior of the people and claims that God set him up as a liberator of Babylon.

10. Cyrus claimed that because he did all this at the command of God, God blessed him immensely.

Reference: British Museum

Babylon the impregnable city

Babylon was one of the greatest and most fortified cities in the ancient world.
Several ancient historians described the city with awe. It is said that King Nebuchadnezzar II made several double/triple walls around the perimeter of the city each about 100 feet high. The Greek historian Herodotus stated the walls were 85 feet wide, and 335 feet tall, topped by 250 defensive towers. The top of the walls included a road wide enough that a four-horse chariot could turn around on the road.
Herodotus related that each of the four walls were pierced by 25 fortified gates, each guarded by massive bronze gates.
In fact, these walls were so majestic that they were known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

How did Cyrus capture Babylon?

Have you ever heard of a city partying when it is under attack?

That is exactly what the Babylonians were doing inside the confines of their fortified city, knowing full well that the huge Persian army was outside their city walls eager to find a way to enter Babylon. The Babylonians were lulled into a false sense of security due to the city’s fortifications. They even had enough food and water to last for years. Thus they engaged in a festival and party within the main city whilst Cyrus and his men desperately looked for ways to enter the city of Babylon.

We just read from Cyrus’s declaration that he was able to take the city of Babylon easily without any battle.

How can this be? Babylon was a superpower of the time and a formidable power to deal with. Well, we don’t need to guess because historians such as Herodotus and Xenophon tell us how Cyrus was able to take over this mighty city without a fight.

The river Euphrates flowed right under these mighty walls and divided the huge city into 2 halves. Cyrus’s army dug a trench to divert the waters of the river into a nearby trench. The water now became only knee-deep and Cyrus’s entire army was able to march right through the river and right under Babylon’s walls. To their surprise, the Babylonians left all the gates facing the river open in their festive revelings and not knowing that the city was captured until they were found by Cyrus’s army dancing and singing! It is thus that this mighty city fell in a day.

(Herodotus 1.191)

This account is also confirmed by Xenophon an ancient Greek philosopher, historian, soldier, mercenary, and student of Socrates.

Cyrus and Bible Prophecy

We know through archaeological proof such as the Cyrus Cylinder and also through other nonbiblical writings that Israel was captured by Babylon and the Jews were taken as slaves to Babylon in 609 BC. About 70 years later Babylon was captured by Cyrus of Persia and he allowed the Jews to return back to Israel in 539 BC.

Secret Unlocked Fact:

Did you know that the Bible prophesied the name of Cyrus 150 years before he was born and if that was not enough the Bible also prophesied that Cyrus would defeat Babylon by diverting the river and entering Babylon through its gates?

 

Bible prophecies connected with Cyrus and their historical fulfillment

1) Israel would serve Babylon for 70 years.

Bible prophecy: Jeremiah 25:11-12
Prophecy written: Sometime between 626-586 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: About 609 BC to 539 BC

11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

 12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
Jeremiah 25:11-12

2) Babylon would be attacked by the Medes

Bible prophecy: Isaiah 13:17
Prophecy written: Between 701-681 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: 539 BC

17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.
Isaiah 13:17

3) The Persian king Cyrus was named by the Bible 150 years before he was born

In one of the most amazing prophecies of the Bible, Isaiah a prophet of God called Cyrus by name 150 years before he was even born!

Bible prophecy: Isaiah 45:1
Prophecy written: Between 701-681 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: 539 BC

1 Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
Isaiah 45:1

4) The Bible prophesied that Cyrus would be a shepherd

Bible prophecy: Isaiah 44:28
Prophecy written: Between 701-681 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: 539 BC

28 That saith of Cyrus, 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.
Isaiah 44:28

Did you know that history confirms that Astyages the grandfather of Cyrus tried to kill him but Cyrus was miraculously protected and raised by a shepherd? Cryus went on to later become the king of Persia thus again confirming Bible prophecy that Cyrus was both be a shepherd and a king.

Herodotus mentions this account:

Astyages the last king of the Median Empire is said to have had a dream that was interpreted by the Magians at his court as a prediction that his grandson Cyrus would take his place as king. Astyages, therefore, summoned his pregnant daughter Mandane from Per­sia and, after Cyrus was born, ordered that he be killed. The task was given to the Mede Harpagus, who turned the infant over to Mithradates, one of Astyages’ shep­herds. Mithradates and his wife decided, however, to raise Cyrus in place of their own stillborn son. When the boy was ten years old Astyages discovered the truth, recognized him as his grandson, and sent him back to his parents in Persia

(Herodotus, 1.107-21)

5) Babylon’s gates would open for Cyrus

The Bible predicted the exact way that Cyrus would conquer Babylon and how God would use Cyrus to free his people from slavery.

Bible prophecy: Isaiah 44:27; Isaiah 45:1
Prophecy written: Between 701-681 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: 539 BC

27 That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers
Isaiah 44:27

1 Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
Isaiah 45:1

6) Cyrus would allow the temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt

The Bible predicted that Cyrus would also help the Jews rebuild His temple which was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar.

Bible prophecy: Isaiah 44:28
Prophecy written: Between 701-681 BC
Prophecy fulfilled: 539 BC

28 That saith of Cyrus, 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.
Isaiah 44:28

The Cyrus cylinder confirms the Bible

The Bible records in Ezra 1 that exactly at the end of the 70 year prophecy God would use Cyrus the king of Persia to send Jews back to Jerusalem and rebuild his temple which was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

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,

 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.

 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.

Ezra 1:1-3

This amazing scripture is the Bible is also confirmed by the Cyrus Cylinder in which Cyrus himself declared that he sent the captives back and helped them to rebuild the broken down sanctuary. The following Bible passage like Ezra 1 sounds very similar to the declaration by Cyrus himself in the Cyrus cylinder.

22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, 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,

23 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.
2 Chronicles 36:22–23

The Jewish Historian Josephus also writes that Cyrus was made aware of the prophecies of Isaiah which mention him. This caused a significant impact
on Cyrus which explains why he made such an unusual decree as recorded in the Cyrus cylinder.

“stirred up the mind of Cyrus, and made him write throughout all Asia: ‘Thus says Cyrus the king: Since God Almighty has appointed me to be king of the habitable earth, I believe that he is that God which the nation of the Israelites worship; for indeed he foretold my name by the prophets, and that I should build him a house at Jerusalem, in the country of Judea.’ …. This was known to Cyrus by his reading the book which Isaiah left behind him of his prophecies; for this prophet said that God had spoken to him in a secret vision: ‘My will is, that Cyrus, whom I have appointed to be king over many and great nations, send back my people to their own land, and build my temple.’ This was foretold by Isaiah one hundred and forty years before the temple was demolished. Accordingly, when Cyrus read this, and admired the Divine power, an earnest desire and ambition seized upon him to fulfill what was so written”
(Antiquities 11.1.1-2)

The prophecies we just read are very detailed and accurate. They were written hundreds of years before the events took place. This particular prophecy provides the name of the king who would destroy a nation and also predicts how that nation would be destroyed. It is amazing to see that these prophecies were fulfilled to the very letter and can be verified through archaeology and non-Biblical sources. This is major proof that the God of the Bible is truly God and that the Bible can be trusted as His reliable word.

God himself declares:

9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me

 

10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure
Isaiah 46:9-10

Make sure to read an even more amazing prophecy about Jesus



Top 30 Prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament

 
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