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Biblical Personalities: Cyrus

On the 1st of Nisan, Cyrus was crowned “King of Babylon and King of all lands.” (538 BCE) “I, Daniel, fled to Cyrus in Shustar, and Cyrus asked me, ‘How did your fathers sin to such an extent that God delivered them into the hands of Nebuchanezzar?’ I replied, ‘We were sinners before God.’


Cyrus told me, ‘Daniel, pray now to God that He give King Masul into my hand, and I will go and restore the holy sacred vessels and garments to Jerusalem,’ and I prayed to God.

Then I, Daniel, said to Cyrus, ‘Go to Babylon, for God has delivered her king into your hands.’ “

Cyrus took four thousand men to Babylon, fought against its King, and killed him and his army. Then he took the sacred vessels and garments and brought them to Shustar and placed them there. And Cyrus ordered that the sacred garments and vessels be returned to Jerusalem.

He took Solomon’s throne for himself and sat upon it. (Ma’aseh Daniel, Beit haMidrash 5:120)

Cyrus went out walking in the capital city and found it desolate. “Why is the city desolate?” he asked. “Where are the goldsmiths and silversmiths?”

They replied, “Did you not decree that all the Jews should go up and rebuild the Temple? They have all gone up.”

Thereupon he decreed, “Whoever has crossed the Euphrates shall continue to go up to the Land of Israel. Whoever has not yet crossed shall not cross” (Shir haShirim Rabbah 5:5)

The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to the Messiah, “I shall complain to you about Cyrus. I said that he would build My house and gather in My exiles, yet, instead of actively participating, he merely announced, “Anyone among you of His entire people…let him go up to Jerusalem…and build the Temple (Ezra 1:3).” [Megillah 12a]

Each time that Cyrus approached greatness, he was limited by himself: He took Solomon’s throne for himself and sat upon it. When bothered by the impact of the Exodus of the Jews from his kingdom to Jerusalem, he said, “Whoever has not yet crossed shall not cross.” He chose to not actively participate when he had the opportunity to be joined to the Messiah.

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