I. THE RETURN FROM EXILE
The Decree of Cyrus.
1#a. [1:1] Ezr 6:3–5; 2 Chr 36:22–23; Jer 25:11–12; 29:10; Zec 1:12. In the first year of Cyrus,#In the first year of Cyrus: the first regnal year of Cyrus was 539 B.C., but his first year as ruler of Babylon, after the conquest of that city, was 538 B.C., the year in which he issued an edict, replicated on the famous Cyrus cylinder, permitting the repatriation of peoples deported by the Babylonians. king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: 2“Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven,#The God of heaven: this title, used as in 7:12, 21, 23, corresponds to a title of the Zoroastrian supreme deity Ahura Mazda, though it is not certain that Cyrus was a Zoroastrian. has given to me, and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3Those among you who belong to any part of his people, may their God be with them! Let them go up to Jerusalem in Judah to build the house of the Lord the God of Israel, that is, the God who is in Jerusalem. 4Let all those who have survived, in whatever place they may have lived, be assisted by the people of that place with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, together with voluntary offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.’”
5Then the heads of ancestral houses#Heads of ancestral houses: the ancestral house was the basic organizational unit of the postexilic community, consisting of an extended kinship group claiming descent from a common ancestor. The patriarchs of these units played an important role in civic government. of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites—everyone, that is, whose spirit had been stirred up by God—prepared to go up to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. 6#b. [1:6] Ex 3:21–22; 11:2; 12:35. All their neighbors gave them help in every way, with silver, gold, goods, livestock, and many precious gifts, besides all their voluntary offerings. 7#c. [1:7] 2 Kgs 25:14–15. King Cyrus, too, had the vessels of the house of the Lord brought forth that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his god. 8Cyrus, king of Persia, had them brought forth by the treasurer Mithredath, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar, prince of Judah.#Sheshbazzar, prince of Judah: often identified with Shenassar, fourth son of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, exiled in 598 B.C. (see 1 Chr 3:17–18), and therefore the uncle of Zerubbabel (Ezr 3:2–4). This identification is uncertain. 9This was the inventory: baskets of goldware, thirty; baskets of silverware, one thousand and twenty-nine; 10golden bowls, thirty; silver bowls, four hundred and ten; other vessels, one thousand. 11Total of the gold and silver vessels: five thousand four hundred.#Five thousand four hundred: either this figure or the figures given for one or more of the items listed have been corrupted in the transmission of the text. All these Sheshbazzar took with him when the exiles were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem.