Another key biblical fact that has been fiercely challenged is the deliverance for the Jews provided by Cyrus’ miraculous foreign policy stated at the end of Chronicles and the beginning of Ezra.
And then the archaeologists uncovered another clay cylinder…
Room 52 (Gallery of Ancient Iran).
Rather than obliterate their neighbours, the Persians offered friendship. If the nation sent a gift of ‘earth and water’ to the Persian king, they could be ‘friends’ (depicted in the film ‘300’). Friendship meant, in effect, vassalage to the Persian king, fighting the king’s battles whenever he called for support, and agreeing to whatever the king requested. Refusal would be met with a brutal, crushing response. Note the different headdresses worn in the reliefs – the nations retained their identities.
The Jews in Exile need a deliverer
One of the major miracles towards the end of the Old Testament period is the return of the Jews to Jerusalem. Scholars criticised the account of Cyrus’ edict found in second Chronicles until the discovery of an amazing clay cylinder…
The Cyrus Cylinder
‘Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand. All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought them all to Babylon.
Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete. Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah—the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,