Jeremiah's prophecy is fulfilled through the decree of King Cyrus of Persia. This introductory section, until the words “let him go up,” also appears as 2 Chron. 36.22–23
In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia: Although Cyrus became king of Persia in 559 BCE, the v. refers to Cyrus's first year as the ruler of Babylonia, 539–538. Cyrus granted the nations under his control the
right to worship their own gods and build their temples. This decree typifies the tolerant religious policy of the Persians.
When the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah was fulfilled: Throughout the book of Jeremiah the people of Judah are instructed to accept as a divine decree Babylonian rule and exile
from their land. In some of the Jeremianic prophecies Nebuchadnezzar is even identified as the servant of God. However, Jeremiah
also prophesies that there will eventually be a return to Judah in which the people of Judah will rebuild the Temple (e.g., Jer. 29.4–10; 31.27–34; 32.36–44
). In the Second Temple period Cyrus's decree was interpreted as the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy; it is possible that
this was seen as a specific fulfillment of Jer. ch 25
, a widely cited ch in other books, that suggested that Babylonia would dominate the world for seventy years. The Lord roused the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia: The intimate relationship between the LORD and Cyrus is emphasized in Isa. 44.28
, where the LORD says, “He is my shepherd; He shall fulfill all My purposes!” Josephus (Ant.
) suggests that Cyrus knew this passage from Isaiah. Cyrus is also referred to as the anointed one of the LORD in Isa. 45.1
. In rabbinic traditions Cyrus is praised as a sage for his decree of 538 which permitted the rebuilding of the Jerusalem
Temple. Cyrus is also held up as a model in Gk writings of the Persian period.
The narrative of Ezra understands Cyrus’s decree to rebuild the Temple to require all of the Jewish exiles to support the
rebuilding of the Temple, but not necessarily to return to Judah. It appears from Ezra‐Nehemiah that many exiles were reluctant
to give up the lives they had established for themselves in Babylonia and to return to Judah where their sustenance and future
seemed less certain. The God that is in Jerusalem: This follows the typical ancient Near Eastern pattern in which gods are viewed as national deities, localized at their capitals.
In rabbinic traditions Cyrus's wisdom is said to be limited because he appears to confine to Jerusalem the power of the God
of Israel and thereby to deny God's dominion over the world (Esth. Rab. proem
6 and 1.5
The exiles return to Judah with the original Temple vessels.
Whoever shares Cyrus’s divine inspiration returns. Those who choose to remain in exile, although they support the rebuilding
project financially, are implicitly reproached.
Cyrus's return of the Temple vessels is also reported in Ezra 5.14; 6.5
. A corroborating account of Nebuchadnezzar's removal of the Temple vessels appears in 2 Chron. 36.10, 18
. THE removal is also reported in 2 Kings 24.13
, but there it also notes that Nebuchadnezzar “stripped off” the gold from all of the Temple vessels. This is not mentioned
in Ezra, which has as a major theme the continuity between the Second Temple and the preexilic past.
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