Cyrus’s decree is known from the end of 2 Chronicles as well as the beginning of Nehemiah. This duplication lead to an earlier belief that these works were composed by the same author. Cyrus also plays a role in the oracles of second Isaiah make a reference of the decree of Cyrus without referring to the same text as Ezra and Nehemiah. The decree is referred two in a different forms in Ezra 6. The decree is concerned specifically with the building of the temple, not necessarily with the return of the exiles, the decree is for the building of the temple in Judah and for those who wished to build it to go. Of course, like anything in the Bible, the authenticity of the decree can be questioned, since the decree in Ezra 1 is written in Hebrew and differs from the Aramaic decree in Ezra 6. But the general tenor Cyrus’s decree fits his practices in better documented areas of the empire. The Cyrus Cylinder attests to Cyrus’s policies within Mespotamia and has interesting analogies to the bible’s portrayal of Cyrus. Cyrus is depicted as chosen by Marduk to reinstate worship that was neglected by Nabonidus and he is said to return the cult statues to other parts other empire as well as return people to their dwellings. Some argue that this is not a distinctly Persian practice, since it has Assyrian antecedents, but this hardly provides justification for rejecting the Chronicler’s and Isaiah’s accounts of the matter.


Coogan, Old Testament

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