Cyrus the Great part 1
by John Thomas Lowe
Cyrus the Great Praying
Cyrus the Great part 1
Cyrus II of Persia, commonly known as Cyrus the Great and called Cyrus the Elder by the Greeks, was the founder of the *Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian empire.
Born: Anshan, Iran, 600 BC
Died: December 4, 530 BC, (aged 70) *the Syr Darya
Full name: Cyrus II of Persia
Spouse: Cassandane, Amitis
Children: Cambyses II, Atossa, Bardiya, Artystone, Roxane
Place of burial: Tomb of Cyrus the Great, Iran, Pasargadae World Heritage Site, Iran
Parents: Mandane of Media (Mother), Cambyses I (Father)
House: Teispids (descendants of Teispes) (mid-7th century BC-522 BC) were an Iron Age branch of the *Achaemenid dynasty initially ruling southern *Zagros in ancient *Anshan. The dynasty's realm was later expanded under Cyrus II, who conquered a vast area in southwestern Asia, later known as the *Achaemenid Empire under Darius I. The *titulary of the *Teispids is recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder, in which Cyrus II identifies himself and his ancestors with the title King of Anshan, as an *Elamite tradition. *Teispid being the eponymous ancestor and founder, the dynasty furthermore included Cyrus I, Cambyses I, Cyrus II, Cambyses II, and Bardiya.
*Achaemenid dynasty ─ The Achaemenid Empire, also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia and founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. It reached its greatest extent under Xerxes I, who conquered most of northern and central ancient Greece.
*The Syr Darya River flows for 2,212 kilometers through the Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. It arises at the confluence (meeting) of the Naryn and Kara Darya (Quoradaryo) rivers in the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan. It drains into the northern parts of the endorheic basin of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan. Most of the Syr Darya's tributaries dry up before they reach the river; hence, though the river flows through a long course, its annual flow volume is only 37 cubic kilometers, only half as much as its sister river, the Amu Darya. The Syr Darya basin is estimated to occupy an area of 782,617 square kilometers.
*Titulary archaic: one holding a title.
*Teispids ─ (descendants of Teispids) (mid-7th century BC-522 BC) were an Iron Age branch of the Achaemenid dynasty initially ruling southern Zagros, in ancient Anshan. The dynasty's realm was later expanded under Cyrus II, who conquered a vast area in southwestern Asia, later known as the Achaemenid Empire under Darius I. The titulary of the Teispids is recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder, in which Cyrus II identifies himself and his ancestors with the title King of Anshan as an Elamite tradition. Teispids being the *eponymous ancestor and founder, the dynasty furthermore included Cyrus I, Cambyses I, Cyrus II, Cambyses II, and Bardiya.
*eponymous Named after something else or deriving from an existing name or word
*Zagros ─ A mountain range in Iran
Cyrus the Great in the Bible
Cyrus the Great was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire and king of Persia from 559-530 BC. He is venerated in the Hebrew Bible for conquering Babylon and liberating the Jews from captivity. He is mentioned 23 times by name and alluded to several times more.1
According to the Bible, Cyrus the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire, was the monarch who ended the Babylonian captivity. In the first year of his reign, he was prompted by God to decree that the Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt and that such Jews as cared to might return to their land for this purpose. Moreover, he showed interest in the project by sending the sacred vessels taken from the First Temple and a considerable sum of money to buy building materials. The existence of the decree has been challenged.
Cyrus the Great is unconditionally praised by the Jewish sources. It is likely that, after the Persian conquest of Babylon, Cyrus had commenced his relationship with the Jewish leaders in exile. The Book of Isaiah says that he was anointed by God.
The Hebrew Bible states that Cyrus issued the decree of liberation to the Jews.4 Cyrus's edict for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem marked a great epoch in the history of the Jewish people. According to Ezra 4:1–6, "the enemies of Judah and Benjamin" asked to help build the temple, and when this was denied hired counselors to frustrate the people of Judah from completing the rebuilding throughout the reign of Cyrus, Xerxes ('Ahasuerus'), and Artaxerxes, until the reign of Darius II.
The work was recommenced under the prophets' exhortations, and when the authorities asked the Jews what right they had to build a temple, they referred to the decree of Cyrus. Darius II, who was then reigning, caused a search for this alleged decree to be made. It was found in the archives at Ecbatana, after which Darius reaffirmed the decree, and the work proceeded to its triumphant close.
A chronicle drawn up just after the conquest of Babylonia by Cyrus gives the history of the reign of Nabonidus ('Nabuna'id'), the last king of Babylon, and the fall of the Babylonian empire. In 538 BC, there was a revolt in Southern Babylonia, while the army of Cyrus entered the country from the north. In June, the Babylonian army was utterly defeated at Opis, and immediately afterward, Sippara opened its gates to the conqueror. Gobryas (Ugbaru), the governor of Medina, was then sent to Babylon, which surrendered "without fighting," The daily services in the temples continued without a break. In October, Cyrus himself arrived and proclaimed a general amnesty, which Gobryas communicated to "all the province of Babylon," of which he had been made governor.
Meanwhile, Nabonidus, who had concealed himself, was captured but treated honorably; and when his wife died, Cambyses II, the son of Cyrus, conducted the funeral. Cyrus now assumed the title of "king of Babylon," claimed to be the descendant of the ancient kings, and made rich offerings to the temples. At the same time, he allowed the foreign populations deported to Babylonia to return to their old homes, carrying the images of their gods. Among these populations were the Jews, who took the sacred vessels of the temple as they had no images.
Speculation abounds as to the reasoning for Cyrus' release of the Jews from Babylon. One argument is that Cyrus was a follower of Zoroaster, the monotheistic prophet: Zoroastrianism played a dominant religious role in Persia throughout its history until the Islamic conquest. As such, he would have felt a kindred spirit with the monotheistic Jews. Another possibility is the magnanimous respect ascribed to have evinced for the diverse beliefs and customs of the peoples within his vast kingdom. As one example, upon the conquest of Babylon itself, it is recorded that he paid homage at the temple of the Babylonian God Marduk – thereby gaining the support of the Babylonian people and minimizing further bloodshed. While Jewish tradition, as described previously in Ezra 1:1–8, indicates "the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation" in the Cyrus Cylinder, "he pays homage to Marduk. "This Babylonian document has been interpreted as referring to the return to their homelands of several displaced cultural groups, one of which could have been the Jews.
The cylinder is attributed to Cyrus in the British Museum.
From Babylon to Aššur and (from) Susa, Agade, Ešnunna, Zambian, Me-Turnu, Der, as far as the region of Gutium, the sacred centers on the other side of the Tigris, whose sanctuaries had been abandoned for a long time, I returned the images of the gods, who had resided there, to their places. I let them dwell in eternal abodes. I gathered all their inhabitants and returned them to their dwellings. In addition, at the command of Marduk, the great lord, I settled in their habitations, in pleasing abodes, the gods of Sumer and Akkad, whom Nabonidus, to the anger of the lord of the gods, had brought into Babylon.
However, it has been argued that it refers to people associated with the image's cult instead of deportees. Diana Edelman has pointed at the serious chronological difficulties that arise when we accept that the Jews returned during the reign of Cyrus.