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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

son of Cambyses the Persian, and of Mandane, daughter of Astyages, king of the Medes. At the age of thirty, Cyrus was made general of the Persian troops, and sent, at the head of thirty thousand men, to assist his uncle, Cyaxares, whom the Babylonians were preparing to attack. Cyaxares and Cyrus gave them battle, and dispersed them. After this, Cyrus carried the war into the countries beyond the river Halys; subdued Cappadocia; marched against Croesus, king of Lydia, defeated him, and took Sardis, his capital. Having reduced almost all Asia, Cyrus repassed the Euphrates, and turned his arms against the Assyrians: having defeated them, he laid siege to Babylon, which he took on a festival day, after having diverted the course of the river which ran through it. On his return to Persia, he married his cousin, the daughter and heiress of Cyaxares; after which he engaged in several wars, and subdued all the nations between Syria and the Red Sea. He died at the age of seventy, after a reign of thirty years. Authors differ much concerning the manner of his death.

2. We learn few particulars respecting Cyrus from Scripture; but they are more certain than those derived from other sources. Daniel, in the remarkable vision in which God showed him the ruin of several great empires which preceded the birth of the Messiah, represents Cyrus as "a ram which had two horns, both high, but one rose higher than the other, and the higher came up last. This ram pushed westward, and northward, and southward, so that no beast might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great,"   Daniel 8:3-4;  Daniel 8:20 . The two horns signify the two empires which Cyrus united in his person, that of the Medes and that of the Persians. In another place, Daniel compares Cyrus to a bear, with three ribs in its mouth, to which it was said, "Arise, devour much flesh." Cyrus succeeded Cambyses in the kingdom of Persia, and Darius the Mede (by Xenophon called Cyaxares, and Astyages in the Greek of Daniel 13:65,) also in the kingdom of the Medes, and the empire of Babylon. He was monarch, as he speaks, "of all the earth,"  Ezra 1:1-2;  2 Chronicles 36:22-23 , when he permitted the Jews to return into their own country, A.M. 3466, B.C. 538. He had always a particular regard for Daniel, and continued him in his great employments.

3. The prophets foretold the exploits of Cyrus.   Isaiah 44:28 , particularly declares his name, above a century before he was born. Josephus says, that the Jews of Babylon showed this passage to Cyrus; and that, in the edict which he granted for their return, he acknowledged that he received the empire of the world from the God of Israel. The peculiar designation by name, which Cyrus received, must be regarded as one of the most remarkable circumstances in the prophetic writings. He was the heir of a monarch who ruled over one of the poorest and most inconsiderable kingdoms of Asia, but whose hardy inhabitants were at that time the bravest of the brave; and the providential circumstances in which he was placed precluded him from all knowledge of this oracular declaration in his favour. He did not become acquainted with the sacred books in which it was contained, nor with the singular people in whose possession it was found, till he had accomplished all the purposes for which he had been raised up, except that of saying to Jerusalem, as the "anointed" vicegerent of Heaven, "Thou shalt be inhabited;" and to the cities of Judah, "Ye shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins." The national pride of the Jews during the days of their unhallowed prosperity, would hinder them from divulging among other nations such prophecies as this, which contained the most severe yet deserved reflections upon their wicked practices and ungrateful conduct; and it was only when they were captives in Babylon that they submitted to the humiliating expedient of exhibiting, to the mighty monarch whose bondmen they had become, the prophetic record of their own apostasy and punishment, and of his still higher destination, as the rebuilder of Jerusalem. No temptation therefore could be laid before the conqueror in early life to excite his latent ambition to accomplish this very full and explicit prophecy; and the facts of his life, as recorded by historians of very opposite sentiments and feelings, all concur in developing a series of consecutive events, in which he acted no insignificant part; which, though astonishing in their results, differ greatly from those rapid strides perceptible in the hurried career of other mighty men of war in the east; and which, from the unbroken connection in which they are presented to us, appear like the common occurrences of life naturally following each other, and mutually dependent. Yet this consideration does not preclude the presence of a mighty Spirit working within him; which, according to Isaiah, said to him, "I will gird thee, though thou hast not known me." Concerning the genius, or guardian angel, of Socrates, many learned controversies have arisen; but though a few of the disputants have endeavoured to explain it away, the majority of them have left the Greek philosopher in possession of a greater portion of inspiration than, with marvellous inconsistency, some of them are willing to accord to the Jewish prophets. In this view it is highly interesting to recollect that the elegant historian who first informed his refined countrymen of this moral prodigy, is he who subsequently introduced them to an acquaintance with the noble and heroic Cyrus. The didactic discourses and the comparatively elevated morality which Xenophon embodied in his "Memoirs of Socrates," are generally admitted to have been purposely illustrated in his subsequent admirable production, the Cyropaedia, or "Education of Cyrus;" the basis of which is true history adorned and refined by philosophy, and exhibiting for universal imitation the life and actions of a prince who was cradled in the ancient Persian school of the Pischdadians, the parent of the Socratic.

Isaiah describes, in fine poetic imagery, the Almighty going before Cyrus to remove every obstruction out of his way:—

"I will go before thee, and level mountains,

I will burst asunder the folding-doors of brass, And split in twain the bars of iron.

Even I will give thee the dark treasures, And the hidden wealth of secret places: That thou mayest know, that I THE LORD,

Who call thee by thy name, am THE GOD OF ISRAEL."

According to Herodotus, Babylon was famous for its brazen gates and doors; a hundred were in the city walls, beside those which led to the river, and others which belonged to the temple of Belus. When Sardis and Babylon were taken by Cyrus, they were the wealthiest cities in the world. Croesus gave an exact inventory of his immense treasures to Cyrus, and they were removed from Sardis in waggons. Pliny gives the following account of the wealth which Cyrus obtained by his conquests in Asia: "He found thirty-four thousand pounds' weight of gold, beside vessels of gold, and gold wrought into the leaves of a platanus and of a vine; five hundred thousand talents of silver, and the cup of Semiramis, which weighed fifteen talents. The Egyptian talent, according to Varro, was equal to eighty pounds." Mr. Brerewood estimates the value of the gold and silver in this enumeration at 126,224,000 l. sterling. Other particulars relating to him, and the accomplishment of prophecy in his conquest of that large city, will be found under the article Babylon. It is the God of Israel who, in these sublime prophecies, confounds the omens and prognostics of the Babylonian soothsayers or diviners, after they had predicted the stability of that empire; and who announces the restoration of Israel, and the rebuilding of the city and temple of Jerusalem, through Cyrus his "shepherd" and his "anointed" messenger. Chosen thus by God to execute his high behests, he subdued and reigned over many nations,—the Cilicians, Syrians, Paphlagonians, Cappadocians, Phrygians, Lydians, Carians, Phenicians, Arabians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Bactrians, &c.

"I am He who frustrateth the tokens of the impostors, And maketh the diviners mad; &c.

Who saith to the abyss, [Babylon,]

‘Be desolate, and I will dry up thy rivers:' Who saith to Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, And shall perform all my pleasure.'

Thus saith the Lord to his anointed,

To Cyrus whom I hold by the right hand, To subdue before him nations,

And ungird the loins of kings,

To open before him [palace] folding-doors; Even [river] gates shall not be shut:

For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel my chosen, I have surnamed thee;" &c.

4. Herodotus has painted the portrait of Cyrus in dark colours, and has been followed in many particulars by Ctesias, Diodorus Siculus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Plato, Strabo, Justin, and others; in opposition to the contrary accounts of AEschylus, Xenophon, Josephus, the Persian historians, and, apparently, the Holy Scriptures. The motive for this conduct of Herodotus is probably to be found in his aversion to Cyrus, for having been the enslaver of his country. The Greek historian was a man of free and independent spirit, and could never brook the mention of the surrender of his native city, Halicarnassus, to the troops of Cyrus. But, allowing that heartlessness and cruelty are too often the accompaniments of mighty conquerors, and that very few escape their direful contagion; yet, when the worst is told about Cyrus, abundance of authentic facts remain to attest his worth, and to elevate his character above the standard of ordinary mortals. Xenophon informs us, that the seven last years of his full sovereignty this prince spent in peace and tranquillity at home, revered and beloved by all classes of his subjects. In his dying moments he was surrounded by his family, friends, and children; and delivered to them the noblest exhortations to the practice of piety, virtue, and concord. This testimony is in substance confirmed by the Persian historians, who relate, that, after a long and bloody war, Khosru, or Cyrus, subdued the empire of Turan, and made the city of Balk, in Chorasan, a royal residence, to keep in order his new subjects; that he repaid every family in Persia proper the amount of the war-taxes, out of the immense spoils which he had acquired by his conquests; that he endeavoured to promote peace and harmony between the Turanians and Iranians; that he regulated the pay of his soldiery, reformed civil and religious abuses throughout the provinces, and, at length, after a long and glorious reign, resigned the crown to his son Lohorasp, and retired to solitude, confessing that he had lived long enough for his own glory, and that it was then time for him to devote the remainder of his days to God. Saadi, in his Gulistan, copies the wise inscription which Cyrus ordered to be inscribed on his crown: "What avails a long life spent in the enjoyment of worldly grandeur, since others, mortal like ourselves, will one day trample under foot our pride! This crown, handed down to me from my predecessors, must soon pass in succession upon the head of many others." In the last book of the "Cyropaedia" we find the following devout thanksgivings to the gods: "I am abundantly thankful for being truly sensible of your care, and for never being elated by prosperity above my condition. I beseech you to prosper my children, wife, friends, and country. And for myself, I ask, that such as is the life ye have vouchsafed to me, such may be my end." The reflections of Dr. Hales on this passage are very judicious: "Here, Xenophon, a polytheist himself, represents Cyrus praying to the gods in the plural number; but that he really prayed to one only, the patriarchal God, worshipped by his venerable ancestors, the Pischdadians, may appear from the watchword, or signal, which he gave to his soldiers before the great battle, in which Evil Merodach was slain:

Ζευς Σωτηρ Και ‘Ηγεμων . "Jove, Our Saviour And Leader"

Who this god was, we learn from the preamble of his famous proclamation, permitting the Jews to return from the Babylonian captivity: ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem,' &c,  Ezra 1:1-2 . But where did the Lord, (Iahoh, or Jove) so charge him?—In that signal prophecy of Isaiah, predicting his name and his actions, about B.C. 712, above a century before his birth; a prophecy which was undoubtedly communicated to him by the venerable Prophet Daniel, the Archimagus, who saw the beginning of the Babylonish captivity, and also its end, here foretold to be effected by the instrumentality of Cyrus."

5. Pliny notices the tomb of Cyrus at Passagardae Persia. Arrian and Strabo describe it; and they agree with Curtius, that Alexander the Great offered funeral honours to his shade there; that he opened the tomb, and found, not the treasures he expected, but a rotten shield, two Scythian bows, and a Persian scymetar. And Plutarch records the following inscription upon it, in his life of Alexander:—"O man, whoever thou art, and whenever thou comest, (for come, I know, thou wilt,) I am Cyrus, the founder of the Persian empire. Envy me not the little earth that covers my body." Alexander was much affected at this inscription, which set before him, in so striking a light, the uncertainty and vicissitude of worldly things. And he placed the crown of gold which he wore, upon the tomb in which the body lay, wondering that a prince so renowned, and possessed of such immense treasures, had not been buried more sumptuously than if he had been a private person. Cyrus, indeed, in his last instructions to his children, desired that "his body, when he died, might not be deposited in gold or silver, nor in any other sumptuous monument, but committed, as soon as possible, to the ground."

The observation which Dr. Hales here makes, is worthy of record:—"This is a most signal and extraordinary epitaph. It seems to have been designed as a useful memento mori, [memento of death,] for Alexander the Great, in the full pride of conquest, "whose coming" it predicts with a prophetic spirit, "For come I know thou wilt." But how could Cyrus know of his coming?—Very easily. Daniel the Archimagus, his venerable friend, who warned the haughty Nebuchadnezzar, that "head of gold," or founder of the Babylonian empire, that it should be subverted by "the breast and arms of silver,"   Daniel 2:37;  Daniel 2:39 , or "the Mede and the Persian," Darius and Cyrus, as he more plainly told the impious Belshazzar,  Daniel 5:28 , we may rest assured, communicated to Cyrus also, the founder of the Persian empire, the symbolical vision of the goat; with the notable horn in his forehead, Alexander of Macedon coming swiftly from the west, to overturn the Persian empire,  Daniel 8:5;  Daniel 8:8 , under the last king Codomannus, the fourth from Darius Nothus, as afterward more distinctly explained,  Daniel 11:1;  Daniel 11:4 . Cyrus, therefore, decidedly addresses the short-lived conqueror, O man, whoever thou art, &c.

"Juvenal, in that noble satire, the tenth,  Daniel 11:168 , has a fine reflection on the vanity of Alexander's wild ambition to conquer worlds, soon destined himself to be confined in a narrow coffin; by a pointed allusion to the epitaph on the tomb of Cyrus:—

Unus Pellaeo Juveni non sufficit orbis; AEstuat, infelix angusto limite mundi:

Cum tamen a figulis munitam intraverit urbem, Sarcophago contentus erit.—Mors sola fatetur Quantula sint hominum corpuscula!"

‘A single globe suffices not the Pellaean youth; Discontented, he scorns the scanty limits of the world; As if within a prison's narrow bounds confined:

But when he shall enter the brick-walled city, [Babylon,] A coffin will content him.—The epitaph alone owns, How small are the diminutive bodies of men!'

"The emotion of Alexander, on visiting the tomb, and reading the inscription, is not less remarkable. He evidently applied to himself, as the destroyer, the awful rebuke of the founder of the Persian empire, for violating the sanctity of his tomb, from motives of profane curiosity, and perhaps of avarice. And we may justly consider the significant act of laying down his golden crown upon the tomb itself, as an amende honorable, a homage due to the offended shade of the pious and lowly-minded Cyrus the Great."

These reflections must close our account of one of the most remarkable characters that ever appeared among the eastern conquerors.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Koresh, from the Persian kohr "the sun," as Pharaoh from phrah "the sun." Founder of the Persian empire. Represented as the son of Mandane, who was daughter of Astyages last king of Media, and married to Cambyses a Persian of the family of the Achaemenidae. Astyages, because of a dream, directed Harpagus his favorite to have the child Cyrus destroyed; but the herdsman to whom he was given preserved him. His kingly qualities, when he grew up, betrayed his birth. Astyages enraged served up at a feast to Harpagus the flesh of his own son. Harpagus in revenge helped Cyrus at Pasargadae near Persepolis, 559 B.C., to defeat and dethrone Astyages, and make himself king of both Medes and Persians. Afterward Cyrus conquered Croesus, and added Lydia to his empire. In 538 B.C. he took Babylon by diverting the course of the Euphrates into another channel, and entering the city by the dry bed during a feast at which the Babylonians were reveling, as  Isaiah 21:44; Isaiah 21:27;  Jeremiah 50:38;  Jeremiah 51:57 foretell He finally fell in a battle against the Massagetae. (See Babylon .)

His tomb is still shown at Pasargadae. In  Daniel 5:31, at the overthrow of Babylon, we read "Darius the Median took (received) the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old."  Isaiah 13:17;  Isaiah 21:2 confirm Daniel as to the Medes' share in destroying Babylon. Daniel ( Daniel 6:28) joins the two, "Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian." Compare also  Jeremiah 51:11-28. The honorary precedency given to the Medes in the formula, "the law of the Medes and Persians altereth not," also in  Daniel 5:28, marks their original supremacy. But the expressions "Darius received the kingdom" ( Daniel 5:31), and "Darius the son of Ahasuerus (the same name as Cyaxares and Xerxes) of the seed of the Medes ... was made king over the realm of the Chaldaeans" ( Daniel 9:1), mark that Cyrus was the supreme king and conqueror, and Darius made subordinate king under him.

It is probable that this Darius was representative of the deposed Median line of supreme kings, whether he is to be identified with Astyages or his successor Cyaxares II, and that Cyrus deemed it politic to give him a share of royal power, in order to consolidate by union the two dynasties and conciliate the Medes. (See Darius .) Darius reigned as viceroy at Babylon from 538 to 536 B.C., when Cyrus assumed the throne there himself; from whence Ezra ( Ezra 1:1) regards the year of Cyrus' beginning to reign at Babylon as the first year of his reign over the whole empire, though he was king of Persia 20 years before. So also  2 Chronicles 36:22. The prophecies of Isaiah attribute the capture of Babylon to Cyrus, not Darius:  Isaiah 44:27-28;  Isaiah 45:1, "Cyrus My (Jehovah's) shepherd ... the Lord's anointed," a type of Messiah, the true King, Sun of righteousness ( Malachi 4:2), and Redeemer of His people from mystical Babylon.

"Ahasuerus" is another form of Cyaxares, whom Xenophon represents as uncle of Cyrus and son of Astyages. The pure monotheism in which Cyrus had been reared as a Persian predisposed him to hate the Babylonian idols and favor the Jewish religion. Zoroaster about, this very time reformed the popular nature worship of Persia, and represented the sun or fire as only a symbol of the one God. In Cyrus' decree for the Jews' restoration from Babylon he intimates his acquaintance with Isaiah's and Jeremiah's prophecies concerning him, which he doubtless heard from Daniel the prophet of Belshazzar's doom: "the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem which is in Judah ... He is the God." Smith's Bible Dictionary (B.F. Westcott) truly says: "the fall of Sardis and Babylon was the starting point of European life; and the beginning of Grecian art and philosophy, and the foundation of the Roman constitution, synchronize with the triumph of the Aryan race in the East."

Cyrus represents eastern concentration and order, Alexander western individuality and independence. The two elements exercised an important influence upon the history of the world and of the church, and Cyrus' restoration of the Jews is one of the great turning points in the development of God's mighty scheme for ultimate redemption. Xenophon (Cyrop. 1:2, section 1) celebrates Cyrus' humanity. This, with his Zoroastrian abhorrence of idolatry and its shameless rites, and veneration for the "great god Ormuzd," the special object of ancient Persian worship, would interest him in behalf of the sufferings of the Jews, whose religion so nearly resembled his own. Thus, their restoration, an act unparalleled in history, is accounted for. His acknowledgment of "the Lord God of heaven" ( Ezra 1:2), whom he identifies with the Jehovah of the Jews, and his pious ascription of his wide dominion to His gift, accord with his belief as a votary of the old Persian religion.

His gift of the golden vessels out of the treasury ( Ezra 1:7-11;  Ezra 6:5), the allowance of the temple rebuilding expenses out of the royal revenue ( Ezra 6:4), and the charge to Ills subjects to "help with silver, gold, goods, and beasts" ( Ezra 1:4) accord with his characteristic munificence. His giving so high a post as the government of Babylon to a Mede agrees with his magnanimity in appointing two Medes in succession to govern the rich Lydia (Herodotus, 1:156,162). See Rawlinson's Historical Illustrations of Old Testament J.W. Bosanquet gives reasons for thinking that the Cyrus (son of Cyaxares and grandson of Astyages) who took Babylon is distinct from Cyrus son of Cambyses who conquered Astyages.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

CYRUS . Referred to as ‘king of the Persians,’   2 Chronicles 36:22 ,   Ezra 1:1 ,   Daniel 10:1 , and often; ‘the Persian,’   Daniel 6:28; ‘king of Babylon,’   Ezra 5:13 . He is regarded in Is 40 48 as specially destined by Jahweh to redeem Israel and execute Divine judgment upon Babylon, to set free the captives and restore Jerusalem and its Temple. He had not known Jahweh before his call, but carried out his mission in Jahweh’s name, and is styled ‘the friend of Jahweh’ and ‘Jahweh’s anointed.’ The Cyrus of whom these high expectations were formed was the founder of the Persian Empire. His grandfather was also called Cyrus ( Kurush , Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] Kurash , Heb. Koresh ). He was an Aryan and descended from Achæmenes (Hakhamanish). At first he was king of Persia and Anshan or Anzan, an Elamite province, capital at Susa (Shushan), and vassal of Media. The contemporary cuneiform inscriptions are (1) a cylinder inscription of Nabonidus, last king of Babylonia, from Sippara; (2) an annalistic tablet of Cyrus written shortly after his conquest of Babylonia; (3) a proclamation of Cyrus of the same date. Nabonidus’ account was written soon after Cyrus, ‘a petty vassal’ of Astyages (Istuvegu), king of the Manda, with his small army had conquered Astyages (b.c. 549). This led to the withdrawal of the Manda from Harran, and left Nabonidus free to restore the temple of Sin there. Cyrus soon made himself master of the whole Median empire, but was faced by an alliance of CrÅ“sus, king of Lydia, Nabonidus of Babylon, and Amasis of Egypt. On the fall of CrÅ“sus, Cyrus turned to Babylonia, where Nabonidus had long estranged the inhabitants of the capital by his neglect of the sacred feasts and worship of Marduk. Belshazzar, his son, defended the land, but was defeated at Opis, and on 14th Tammuz, Sippara fell ‘without fighting.’ On the 16th, Gobryas (Gubaru, Ugbaru) entered Babylon without resistance, and Cyrus followed on the 3rd of Marcheshvan, b.c. 539 8, and was received, according to his own account, by all classes, especially by priests and nobles, as a liberator. He claims to have restored to their homes the exiles from Babylonia and their gods, and prays that these gods may daily intercede for him with Marduk and Nabu, whose worshipper he professes to be. Cyrus reigned about nine years from this time, and in the last year banded over the sovereignty of Babylon to his son Cambyses.

The career of Cyrus so impressed the popular imagination, that the classical writers adorn his story with a variety of legendary incidents for which no confirmation can be produced. The policy which Cyrus pursued towards the Jews is variously estimated, but all accounts agree in stating that the restoration of the Temple was started by him, and in claiming him as a worshipper of Jahweh.

C. H. W. Johns.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

 Ezra 1:1,2 Daniel 5:30

Hitherto the great kings of the earth had only oppressed the Jews. Cyrus was to them as a "shepherd" ( Isaiah 44:28;  45:1 ). God employed him in doing service to his ancient people. He may posibly have gained, through contact with the Jews, some knowledge of their religion.

The "first year of Cyrus" ( Ezra 1:1 ) is not the year of his elevation to power over the Medes, nor over the Persians, nor the year of the fall of Babylon, but the year succeeding the two years during which "Darius the Mede" was viceroy in Babylon after its fall. At this time only (B.C. 536) Cyrus became actual king over Palestine, which became a part of his Babylonian empire. The edict of Cyrus for the rebuilding of Jerusalem marked a great epoch in the history of the Jewish people ( 2 Chronicles 36:22,23;  Ezra 1:1-4;  4:3;  5:13-17;  6:3-5 ).

This decree was discovered "at Achmetha [RSV marg., "Ecbatana"], in the palace that is in the province of the Medes" ( Ezra 6:2 ). A chronicle drawn up just after the conquest of Babylonia by Cyrus, gives the history of the reign of Nabonidus (Nabunahid), the last king of Babylon, and of the fall of the Babylonian empire. In B.C. 538 there was a revolt in Southern Babylonia, while the army of Cyrus entered the country from the north. In June the Babylonian army was completely defeated at Opis, and immediately afterwards Sippara opened its gates to the conqueror. Gobryas (Ugbaru), the governor of Kurdistan, was then sent to Babylon, which surrendered "without fighting," and the daily services in the temples continued without a break. In October, Cyrus himself arrived, and proclaimed a general amnesty, which was communicated by Gobryas to "all the province of Babylon," of which he had been made governor. Meanwhile, Nabonidus, who had concealed himself, was captured, but treated honourably; and when his wife died, Cambyses, 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 who had been deported to Babylonia to return to their old homes, carrying with them the images of their gods. Among these populations were the Jews, who, as they had no images, took with them the sacred vessels of the temple.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [5]

Prince of Persia. This man was an eminent instrument in the Lord's hand, for the deliverance of Israel from the Babylonish captivity. What is very remarkable and worthy the reader's attention concerning Cyrus is, that the Lord, by the spirit of prophecy, informed the church one hundred and fifty years, at least, before the captivity took place, that Cyrus was anointed to end that captivity and bring his people out of it. And that no mistake might arise, the Lord called him by his name Cyrus, then, so long before he was born. The reader will find much information on this subject by reading the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah's prophecy, and comparing it with  Ezra 1:1-11 and  Daniel 6:28.

One circumstance I must beg to subjoin, because it is, in my view, very important and striking, concerning this prince of Persia, Cyrus. We plainly discover, that he was an instrument in the Lord's hand for good to the church. And we farther discover, that he was appointed to this long before he was born. And we also no less perceive, that the church was assured of this. by his name, for their comfort, under all their exercises, until the time should come. But all the while Cyrus himself felt no interest in the great event he was appointed to accomplish, and knew not the Lord. For so the Lord gives the awful account—I have surnamed thee, said the Lord to him, though thou hast not known me. And this is again repeated in the following verse. (See  Isaiah 45:3-4)

Depend upon it, reader, the case of Cyrus is not singular. Multitudes are appointed to minister to the Lord's people, who neither know the Lord, nor love his people. But they shall serve the Lord's purpose, however reluctantly, did they know all, they would go about it. For rather than the Lord's poor children shall want bread, Jesus will feed them at their very enemies' table. And when they have answered the Lord's purpose, they themselves are accounted as nothing. What an awful Scripture that is of our Lord's to this amount: ( Matthew 7:22) "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord! Lord! Have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? To whom Jesus will say, I never knew you; depart from me!"

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

Called several times in scripture 'the king of Persia,' though from the monuments he is found to have been also king of Elam, and is otherwise called the founder of the Persian empire. On his taking Babylon, the second great Gentile empire of Daniel was set up. He was prophesied of by name long before his birth; that he would be God's shepherd, to perform all His pleasure, and that he would say to Jerusalem, "Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid." He is also called the anointed of Jehovah, to subdue nations (type of Christ restoring Judah in the last days).  Isaiah 44:28;  Isaiah 45:1 . When the 70 years' captivity of which Jeremiah prophesied, were expired ( Jeremiah 25:12;  Jeremiah 29:10 ) God stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, and a proclamation was made that the house of the Lord God of Israel was to be rebuilt, and permission was given to the captives to return. He also restored the holy vessels that had been carried from Jerusalem to Babylon. It was called the first year of Cyrus, when he began to reign alone over Babylon.  Ezra 1:1-11;  2 Chronicles 36:22,23 . This would be about B.C. 536, the 70 years of captivity having begun in B.C. 606, the date of the first captivity of Judah. Daniel continued till the reign of Cyrus, and speaks of his third year.  Daniel 6:28;  Daniel 10:1 .

An ancient cylinder speaks of the forces of Cyrus as 'marching like a cloud, and his army as the waters of a river: opposition comes to nothing before him.' Daniel, in the vision of the kingdom founded by Cyrus, and seen under the figure of a ram, saw it pushing "westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there anythat could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his own will, andbecame great."  Daniel 8:4 . For a list of Persian kings see PERSIA. The name of Cyrus has been found thus:

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

As an adult, Cyrus organized the Persians into an army and revolted against his grandfather and father (Cambyses I). He defeated them and claimed their throne.

One of his first acts as king of Medio-Persia was to launch an attack against Lydia, capital of Sardis and storehouse for the riches of its king, Croesus. Turning eastward, Cyrus continued his campaign until he had carved out a vast empire, stretching from the Aegean Sea to India.

The Babylonian Empire next stood in his path, an obstacle which appeared to be insurmountable. Engaging the Babylonian army at Opis, Cyrus' troops routed them and moved on Babylon. The people in the capital welcomed Cyrus with open arms, seeing him as a liberator rather than a conqueror. All that remained was Egypt, which he left for his son, Cambyses II. Cyrus truly was the ruler of the world.

Cyrus' military exploits have become legendary. However, he is best remembered for his policies of peace. His famous decree in 539 B.C. ( 2 Chronicles 36:22-23;  Ezra 1:1-4 ) set free the captives Babylon had taken during its harsh rule. Among these prisoners were the Jews taken from Jerusalem in 586 B.C. They were allowed to return to rebuild the Temple and city. Along with this freedom Cyrus restored the valuable treasures of the Temple taken during the Exile. Since the Jews had done well in Babylon financially, many of them did not want to return to the wastes of Judah. From these people Cyrus exacted a tax to help pay for the trip for those who did wish to rebuild Jerusalem.

An astute politician, Cyrus made it a practice to publicly worship the gods of each kingdom he conquered. In so doing, he won the hearts of his subjects and kept down revolt. He is referred to as Yahweh's shepherd and anointed ( Isaiah 44:28-45:6 ) because of his kindness to the Jews and worship of Yahweh.

His last years are obscure. Cyrus was killed while fighting a frontier war with the nomadic Massagetae people. His tomb is in Pasargadae (modern Murghab).

Mike Mitchell

Smith's Bible Dictionary [8]

Cy'rus. (The Sun). The founder of the Persian empire - see  2 Chronicles 36:22-23;  Daniel 6:28;  Daniel 10:1;  Daniel 10:13 - was, according to the common legend, the son of Cambyses, a Persian of the royal family of the Achaemenidae.

When he grew up to manhood, his courage and genius placed him at the head of the Persians. His conquests were numerous and brilliant. He defeated and captured the Median king, B.C. 559. In B.C. 546 (?), he defeated Croesus, and the kingdom of lydia was the prize of his success. Babylon fell before his army, and the ancient dominions of Assyria were added to his empire B.C. 538. The prophet Daniel's home for a time was at his court.  Daniel 6:28.

The edict of Cyrus for the rebuilding of the Temple,  2 Chronicles 36:22-23;  Ezra 1:1-4;  Ezra 3:7;  Ezra 4:3;  Ezra 5:13;  Ezra 5:17;  Ezra 6:3, was, in fact, the beginning of Judaism; and the great changes by which the nation was transformed into a church are clearly marked. His tomb is still shown at Pasargadae, the scene of his first decisive victory.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Cyrus ( Sî'Rus ), The Sun. In Hebrew Koresh, founder of the Persian empire; used by Jehovah in the execution of his designs of mercy towards the Jews, as foretold by  Isaiah 44:28;  Isaiah 45:1-7; comp.  2 Chronicles 36:22-23;  Ezra 1:1-4;  Daniel 6:28. Some suppose Cyrus to be a title of a ruler, as Cæsar or Pharaoh; in that case Isaiah would not necessarily designate a particular king, but only the chief ruler of Persia. This Cyrus was the son of Cambyses, king of Persia, and a nephew of Darius the Mede (Cyaxares), and united the crowns of Persia and Media. He ordered a return of the Jews, who had been seventy years in captivity, to their own land, and furnished them very liberally with the means of rebuilding their temple. Daniel lived at his court, and was his favorite minister and adviser.  Daniel 6:28. The captivity of the Jews, which was ended by the decree of Cyrus, b.c. 536, ended also the sin of idolatry in the nation.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [10]

Son of Cambyses king of Persia, and Mandane, daughter of Astyages king of the Medes. He aided his uncle Cyaxares (called "Darius the Mede" in the Bible) in conquering Asia Minor, and afterwards their joint forces captured Babylon and overran the Assyrian empire. He married his cousin, the daughter of Cyaxares, and thus at length inherited and united the crowns of Persia Media. Cyrus was foretold by the prophet Isaiah,  Isaiah 44:28   45:1-7 , as the deliverer and restorer of Judah, as he proved to be,  2 Chronicles 36:22,23   Ezra 1:1-4 . The prophet Daniel was his favorite minister,  Daniel 6:28 .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [11]

As the king who led Persia to its conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, Cyrus was an important figure in helping to bring God’s purposes for Israel to fulfilment ( Isaiah 45:1). It was Cyrus who gave the captive Jews permission to return to their homeland and rebuild their national life and religion ( Ezra 1:1-4). (For details see Ezra ; Persia .)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [12]

sı̄´rus ( כּורשׁ , kōresh  ; Old Persian Kurus  ; Babylonian Kur r ' as , Kur r ' ašu  ; Greek Κῦρος , Kúros ,  2 Chronicles 36:22 , etc.):

1. Genealogy of Cyrus

2. His Country, Ansan or Anzan

3. His Origin (Herodotus)

4. His Origin (Xenophon)

5. His Origin (Nicolaus of Damascus)

6. His Origin (Ctesias)

7. Babylonian Records of His Reign - T he Cylinder of Nabonidus

8. The Babylonian Chronicle

9. The Babylonian Chronicle - T he Capture of Babylon

10. The Cylinder of Cyrus

11. Cyrus' History from Greek Sources

12. The Massagetae

13. The Sacae, Berbices, etc.

14. Doubt as to the Manner of His Death

15. Cyrus' Reputation

16. Why Did the Babylonians Accept Him?

17. Cyrus and the Jews

18. Cyrus in Persia - H is Bas-Relief

1. Genealogy of Cyrus

The son of the earlier Cambyses, of the royal race of the Achemenians. His genealogy, as given by himself, is as follows: "I am Cyrus, king of the host, the great king, the mighty king, king of Tindir (Babylon), king of the land of Sumeru and Akkadu, king of the four regions, son of Cambyses, the great king, king of the city Ansan, grandson of Cyrus, the great king, king of the city Ansan, great-grandson of Šišpis ( Teispes ), the great king, king of the city Ansan, the all-enduring royal seed whose sovereignty Bel and Nebo love," etc. ( WAI , V, plural 35, 20-22).

2. His Country, Ansan or Anzan

As, in the Babylonian inscriptions, Aššan ( Anšan , Anzan) is explained as Elam - the city was, in fact, the capital of that country - it is probable that Cyrus' name was Elamite; but the meaning is doubtful. The Greek etymology connecting it with khōr , "the sun" in Persian, may therefore be rejected. According to Strabo, he was at first called Agradatēs , the name by which he was universally known being taken from that of the river Cyrus. This, however, is more likely to have been the reason why his grandfather (after whom he was probably named) was called Cyrus.

3. His Origin (Herodotus)

Several versions of his birth and rise to power are recorded. Herodotus (i.95) mentions three. In that which he quotes (i.107ff), it is said that Mandane was the daughter of the Median king Astyages, who, in consequence of a dream which he had had, foretelling the ultimate triumph of her son over his dynasty, gave her in marriage to a Persian named Cambyses, who was not one of his peers. A second dream caused him to watch for her expected offspring, and when Cyrus came into the world Astyages delivered the child to his relative, Harpagus, with orders to destroy it. Being Unwilling to do this, he handed the infant to a Shepherd named Mitradates, who, his wife having brought forth a still-born child, consented to spare the life of the infant Cyrus. Later on, in consequence of his imperious acts, Cyrus was recognized by Astyages, who came to learn the whole story, and spared him because, having once been made king by his companions in play, the Magians held the predictions concerning his ultimate royal state to have been fulfilled. The vengeance taken by Astyages upon Harpagus for his apparent disobedience to orders is well known: his son was slain, and a portion, disguised, given him to eat. Though filled with grief, Harpagus concealed his feelings, and departed with the remains of his son's body; and Cyrus, in due course, was sent to stay with his parents, Cambyses and Mandane. Later on, Harpagus persuaded Cyrus to induce the Persians to revolt, and Astyages having blindly appointed Harpagus commander-in-chief of the Median army, the last-named went over to the side of Cyrus. The result was an easy victory for the latter, but Astyages took care to impale the Magians who had advised him to spare his grandson. Having gathered another, but smaller, army, he took the field in person, but was defeated and captured. Cyrus, however, who became king of Media as well as of Persia, treated him honorably and well.

4. His Origin (Xenophon)

According to Xenophon, Cyropedia i. section 2, Cambyses, the father of Cyrus, was king of Persia. (NOTE: He may have added Persia to his dominion, but according to Cyrus himself, he was king of Ansan or Elam.) Until his 12th year, Cyrus was educated in Persia, when he was sent for, with his mother, by Astyages, to whom he at once manifested much affection. Astyages is said to have been succeeded by his son Cyaxares, and Cyrus then became his commander-in-chief, subduing, among others, the Lydians. He twice defeated the Assyrians (= Babylonians), his final conquest of the country being while the Median king was still alive. As, however, the Cyropedia is a romance, the historical details are not of any great value.

5. His Origin (Nicolaus of Damascus)

Nicolaus of Damascus describes Cyrus as the son of a Mardian bandit named Atradates, his mother's name being Argoste. While in service in the palace of Astyages, he was adopted by Artembarks, cupbearer, and Thus obtained prominence. Cyrus now made his bandit-father satrap of Persia, and, with base ingratitude, plotted against his king and benefactor. The preparations for a revolt having been made, he and his general Oibaras were victorious at Hyrba, but were defeated at Parsagadae, where his father Atradates was captured and later on died. Cyrus now took refuge in his mountain home, but the taunts of the women sent him and his helpers forth again, this time to victory and dominion.

6. His Origin (Ctesias)

Ctesias also states that there was no relationship between Cyrus and Astyages (Astyigas), who, when Cyrus conquered Media, fled to Ecbatana, and was there hidden by his daughter Amytis, and Spitamas her husband. Had not Astyages yielded, Cyrus, it is said, would have tortured them, with their children. Cyrus afterward liberated Astyages, and married his daughter Amytis, whose husband he had put to death for telling a falsehood. The Bactrians are said to have been so satisfied at the reconciliation of Cyrus with Astyages and his daughter, that they voluntarily submitted. Cyrus is said by Ctesias to have been taken prisoner by the Sacae, but he was ransomed. He died from a wound received in battle with the Derbices, assisted by the Indians.

7. Babylonian Records of His Reign - T he Cylinder of Nabonidus

In the midst of so much uncertainty, it is a relief to turn to the contemporary documents of the Babylonians, which, though they do not speak of Cyrus' youth in detail, and refer only to other periods of his career in which they were more immediately interested, may nevertheless, being contemporary, be held to have an altogether special authority. According to the inscriptions, the conflict with Astyages took place in 549 bc. From the cylinder of Nabonidus we learn that the Medes had been very successful in their warlike operations, and had gone even as far afield as Haran, which they had besieged. The Babylonjan King Nabonidus desired to carry out the instructions of Merodach, revealed in a dream, to restore the temple of Sin, the Moon-god, in that city. This, however, in consequence of the siege, he could not do, and it was revealed to him in a dream that the power of Astyages would be overthrown at the end of three years, which happened as predicted. "They (the gods Sin and Merodach) then caused Cyrus, king of Anzan, his (Merodach's) young servant, with his little army, to rise up against him (the Median); he destroyed the extensive Umman-manda (Medes), Ištuwegu (Astyages), king of the Medes, he captured, and took (him) prisoner to his (own) land." The account of this engagement in the Babylonian Chronicle (which is, perhaps, Cyrus' own), is as follows: "(Astyages) gathered his army, and went against Cyrus, king of Ansan, to capture him, and (as for) Astyages, his army revolted against him and took him, and gave him to Cyrus.

8. The Babylonian Chronicle

Cyrus went to the land of Ecbatana, his royal city. He carried off from Ecbatana silver, gold, furniture, merchandise, and took to the land of Anšan the furniture and merchandise which he had captured."

The above is the entry for the 6th year of Nabonidus, which corresponds with 549 bc; and it will be noticed that he is here called "king of Anšan ." The next reference to Cyrus in the Babylonian Chronicle is the entry for Nabonidus' 9th year (546 bc), where it is stated that "Cyrus, king of the land of Parsu (Persia) gathered his army, and crossed the Tigris below Arbela," and in the following month (Iyyar) entered the land of Is- ...., where someone seems to have taken a bribe, garrisoned the place, and afterward a king ruled there. The passage, however, is imperfect, and therefore obscure, but we may, perhaps, see therein some preparatory move on the part of Cyrus to obtain possession of the tract over which Nabonidus claimed dominion. The next year (545 bc) there seems to have been another move on the part of the Persians, for the Elamite governor (?) is referred to, and had apparently some dealings with the governor of Erech. All this time things seem to have been the same in Babylonia, the king's son (he is not named, but apparently Belshazzar is meant) and the soldiers remaining in Akkad (possibly used in the old sense of the word, to indicate the district around Sippar), where it was seemingly expected that the main attack would be delivered. The reference to the governor of Erech might imply that some conspiracy was on foot more to the south - a movement of which the native authorities possibly remained in ignorance.

9. The Babylonian Chronicle - T he Capture of Babylon

After a gap which leaves four years unaccounted for, we have traces of four lines which mention the goddess Ishtar of Erech, and the gods of the land of Par ... (?Persia) are referred to. After this comes the long entry, which, though the date is broken away, must refer to the 17th year of Nabonidus. A royal visit to a temple is referred to, and there is mention of a revolt. Certain religious ceremonies were then performed, and others omitted. In the month Tammuz, Cyrus seems to have fought a battle in Opis, and succeeded in attacking the army of Akkad situated on the Tigris. On the 14th of the month, Sippar was taken without fighting, and Nabonidus fled. On the 16th Ugbaru (Gobryas) governor of Media, entered Babylon, with the army of Cyrus, without fighting, and there Nabonidus was captured with his followers. At this time Ê-saggil and the temples of the land seem to have been closed, possibly to prevent the followers of Nabonidus from taking sanctuary there, or else to prevent plotters from coming forth; and on the 3rd of Marcheswan (October), Cyrus entered Babylon. "Crowds collected before him, proposing peace for the city; Cyrus, command the peace of Babylon, all of it." Gobryas, his vice-regent, then appointed governors in Babylon, and the gods whom Nabonidus had taken down to Babylon, were returned to their shrines. On the night of the 11th of Marcheswan, Ugbaru went against (some part of Babylon), and the son of the king died; and there was mourning for him from the 27th of Adar to the 3rd of Nisan (six days). There is some doubt as to whether the text speaks of the king or the son of the king, but as there is a record that Nabonidus was exiled to Carmania, it would seem most likely that the death of Belshazzar "in the night" is here referred to. The day after the completion of the mourning (the 4th of Nisan), Cambyses, son of Cyrus, performed ceremonies in the temple Ê - nig - h̬ad - kalamma , probably in connection with the new year's festival, for which Cyrus had probably timed his arrival at Babylon. According to Herodotus (i.191), Babylon' was taken during a festival, agreeing with  Daniel 5:1 .

10. The Cylinder of Cyrus

The other inscription of Cyrus, discovered by Mr. H. Rassam at Babylon, is a kind of proclamation justifying his seizure of the crown. He states that the gods (of the various cities of Babylonia) forsook their dwellings in anger that he (Nabonidus) had made them enter within Šu - anna (Babylon). Merodach, the chief divinity of Babylon, sought also a just king, the desire of his heart, whose hand he might hold - C yrus, king of Anšan , he called his title - to all the kingdoms together (his) name was proclaimed.

The glory of Cyrus' conquests probably appealed to the Babylonians, for Cyrus next states that Merodach placed the whole of the troops of Qutû (Media) under his feet, and the whole of the troops of the Manda (barbarians and mercenaries). He also caused his hands to hold the people of the dark head (Asiatics, including the Babylonians) - in righteousness and justice he cared for them. He commanded that he should go to his city Babylon, and walked by his side like a friend and a companion - without fighting and battle Merodach caused him to enter Šu - anna . By his high command, the kings of every region from the upper sea to the lower sea (the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf), the kings of the Amorites, and the dwellers in tents, brought their valuable tribute and kissed his feet within Šu - anna (Babylon). From Nineveh(?), the city Aššur , Susa, Agadé, the land of Ešnunnak , Zamban, - Ṭurnu , and Dêru , to the borders of Media, the gods inhabiting them were returned to their shrines, and all the people were collected and sent back to their dwellings. He finishes by soliciting the prayers of the gods to Bel and Nebo for length of days and happiness, asking them also to appeal to Merodach on behalf of Cyrus "his worshipper," and his son Cambyses.

11. Cyrus' History from Greek Sources

It was probably between the defeat of Astyages and the capture of Babylon that Cyrus defeated Croesus and conquered Lydia. After preparing to attack the Greek cities of Asia Minor, he returned to Ecbatana, taking Croesus with him. The states which had formed the Lydian empire, however, at once revolted, and had again to be reduced to submission, this time by Harpagus, his faithful general, after a determined resistance. It was at this period that Cyrus subdued the nations of Upper Asia, his next objective being Babylonia (section 9 and the two preceding paragraphs). In this connection it is noteworthy that, in the Babylonian official account, there is no mention of his engineering works preparatory to the taking of Babylon - the turning of the waters of the Gyndes into a number of channels in order to cross (Herod. i.189); the siege of Babylon, long and difficult, and the final capture of the city by changing the course of the Euphrates, enabling his army to enter by the bed of the river' (Herodotus i.190-91). There may be some foundation for this statement, but if so, the king did not boast of it - perhaps because it did not entail any real labor, for the irrigation works already in existence may have been nearly sufficient for the purpose. It seems likely that the conquest of Babylon opened the way for other military exploits. Herodotus states that he next attacked the Massagetae, who were located beyond the Araxes.

12. The Massagetae

One-third of their army was defeated, and the son of Tomyris, the queen, captured by a stratagem; but on being freed from his bonds, he committed suicide. In another exceedingly fierce battle which followed, the Persian army was destroyed, and Cyrus himself brought his life to an end there, after a reign of 29 years. (He had ruled over Media for 11, and over Babylonia (and Assyria) for 9 years.) According to the Babylonian contract-tablets, Cambyses, his son, was associated with him on the throne during the first portion of his 1st year of rule in Babylon.

13. The Sacae, Berbices, Etc

According to Ctesias, Cyrus made war with the Bactrians and the Sacae, but was taken prisoner by the latter, and was afterward ransomed. He died from a wound received in battle with the Berbices. Diodorus agrees, in the main, with Herodotus, but relates that Cyrus was captured by the Scythian queen (apparently Tomyris), who crucified or impaled him.

14. Doubt as to the Manner of His Death

It is strange that, in the case of such a celebrated ruler as Cyrus, nothing certain is known as to the manner of his death. The accounts which have come down to us seem to make it certain that he was killed in battle with some enemy, but the statements concerning his end are conflicting. This absence of any account of his death from a trustworthy source implies that Herodotus is right in indicating a terrible disaster to the Persian arms, and it is therefore probable that he fell on the field of battle - perhaps in conflict with the Massagetae, as Herodotus states. Supposing that only a few of the Persian army escaped, it may be that not one of those who saw him fall lived to tell the tale, and the world was dependent on the more or less trustworthy statements which the Massagetae made.

15. Cyrus' Reputation

That he was considered to be a personage of noble character is clear from all that has come down to us concerning him, the most noteworthy being Xenophon's Cyropedia and Institution of Cyrus . The Babylonian inscriptions do not reproduce Babylonian opinion, but the fact that on the occasion of the siege of Babylon the people trusted to his honor and came forth asking peace for the city (apparently with every confidence that their request would be granted); and that the Babylonians, as a whole, were contented under his rule, may be regarded as tacit confirmation. Nabonidus, before the invasion of his territory by the Persian forces, was evidently well disposed toward him, and looked upon him, as we have seen, as "the young servant of Merodach," the patron deity of Babylon.

16. Why Did the Babylonians Accept Him?

It is not altogether clear, however, why theBabylonians submitted to him with so little resistance - their inscriptions contain no indication that they had real reason to be dissatisfied with the rule of Nabonidus - he seems to have been simply regarded as somewhat unorthodox in his worship of the gods; but could they expect an alien, of a different religion, to be better in that respect? Dissatisfaction on the part of the Babyloninn priesthood was undoubtedly at the bottom of their discontent, however, and may be held to supply a sufficient reason, though it does not redound to the credit of Babylonian patriotism. It has been said that the success of Cyrus was in part due to the aid given him by the Jews, who, recognizing him as a monotheist like themselves, gave him more than mere sympathy; but it is probable that he could never have conquered Babylonia had not the priests, as indicated by their own records, spread discontent among the people. It is doubtful whether we may attribute a higher motive to the priesthood, though that is not altogether impossible. The inner teaching of the Babylonian polytheistic faith was, as is now well known, monotheistic, and there may have been, among the priests, a desire to have a ruler holding that to be the true faith, and also not so inclined as Nabonidus to run counter to the people's (and the priests') prejudices. Jewish influence would, in some measure, account for this.

17. Cyrus and the Jews

If the Jews thought that they would be more sympathetically treated under Cyrus' rule, they were not disappointed. It was he who gave orders for the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem ( 2 Chronicles 36:23;  Ezra 1:2;  Ezra 5:13;  Ezra 6:3 ), restored the vessels of the House of the Lord which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away ( Ezra 1:7 ), and provided funds to bring cedar trees from Lebanon ( Ezra 3:7 ). But he also restored the temples of theBabylonians, and brought back the images of the gods to their shrines. Nevertheless the Jews evidently felt that the favors he granted them showed sympathy for them, and this it probably was which caused Isaiah ( Isaiah 44:28 ) to see in him a "shepherd" of the Lord, and an anointed king (Messiah, τῷ Χριστῷ μου , tō̇ Christō̇ mou ,  Isaiah 45:1 ) - a title suggesting to later writers that he was a type of Christ (Hieron., Commentary on   Isaiah 44:1 ).

18. Cyrus in Persia - H is Bas-Relief

From Persia we do not get any help as to his character, nor as to the estimation in which he was held. His only inscription extant is above his idealized bas-relief at Murghâb , where he simply writes: "I am Cyrus, the Achemenian." The stone shows Cyrus standing, looking to the right, draped in a fringed garment resembling those worn by the ancientBabylonians, reaching to the feet. His hair is combed back in the Persian style, and upon his head is an elaborate Egyptian crown, two horns extending to front and back, with a uraeus serpent rising from each end, and between the serpents three vase-like objects, with discs at their bases and summits, and serrated leaves between. There is no doubt that this crown is symbolical of his dominion over Egypt, the three vase-like objects being modifications of the triple helmet-crown of the Egyptian deities. The king is represented as four-winged in the Assyro-Babylonian style, probably as a claim to divinity in their hierarchy as well as to dominion in the lands of Merodach and Aššur . In his right hand, which is raised to the level of his shoulder, he holds a kind of scepter seemingly terminating in a bird's head - in all probability also a symbol of Babylonian dominion, though the emblem of the Babylonian cities of the South was most commonly a bird with wings displayed.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [13]

Cy´rus, the celebrated Persian conqueror of Babylon, who promulgated the first edict for the restoration of the Jews to their own land (, etc.). We are informed by Strabo that his original name was Agradates; but he assumed that of Kouros, or Khouresh (which means the Sun), doubtless on ascending the throne.

Herodotus and Xenophon agree that Cyrus was son of Cambyses prince of Persia, and of Mandane daughter of Astyages, king of the Median Empire. Ctesias denies that there was any relationship at all between Cyrus and Astyages. According to him, when Cyrus had defeated and captured Astyages, he adopted him as a grandfather, and invested Amytis, or Amyntis, the daughter of Astyages (whose name is in all probability only another form of Mandane), with all the honors of queen dowager. His object in so doing was to facilitate the submission of the more distant parts of the empire, which were not yet conquered; and he reaped excellent fruit of his policy in winning the homage of the ancient, rich, and remote province of Bactria. Ctesias adds, that Cyrus afterwards married Amytis. It is easy to see that the latter account is by far the more historical, and that the story followed by Herodotus and Xenophon is that which the courtiers published in aid of the Persian prince's designs. Yet there is no reason for doubting that, on the father's side, Cyrus belonged to the Achaemenidae, the royal clan of the military tribe of the Persians.

It was the frequent practice of the Persian monarchs, and probably therefore of the Medes before them, to choose the provincial viceroys from the royal families of the subject nations, and thereby to leave to the vanquished much both of the semblance and of the reality of freedom. This will be sufficient to account for the first steps of Cyrus towards eminence. But as the Persian armies were at that time composed of ruder and braver men than the Medes—(indeed, to this day, the men of Shiraz are proverbially braver than those of Isfahan)—the account of Xenophon is credible, that in the general wars of the empire, Cyrus won the attachment of the whole army by his bravery; while, as Herodotus tells, the atrocious cruelties of Astyages may have revolted the hearts of the Median nobility.

Xenophon's romance omits the fact that the transference of the empire was effected by a civil war; nevertheless, the same writer in his Anabasis confesses it. Herodotus, Ctesias, Isocrates, Strabo, and, in fact, all who allude to the matter at all, agree that it was so. In Xenophon we find the Upper Tigris to have been the seat of one campaign, where the cities of Larissa and Mespila were besieged and taken by Cyrus. From Strabo we learn that the decisive battle was fought on the spot where Cyrus afterwards built Pasargadae, in Persis, for his native capital. Yet Ctesias represents Astyages as finally captured in the palace of Ecbatana. Cyrus (says Herodotus) did Astyages no harm, but kept him by his side to the end of his life. This is like the generosity of the Persian kings to vanquished foreigners, but very unlike the conduct of fortunate usurpers, east or west, towards a fallen superior. The tale in Ctesias is more like the current imperial craft. There we read that Cyrus at first made Astyages ruler of the Barcanians, and afterwards sent for him by the eunuch Petisacas to visit his daughter and son-in-law, who were longing to see him. The eunuch, however, put him to death on the road; and Cyrus, indignant at the deed, gave up the murderer to the cruel vengeance of the queen. Astyages had certainly lived long enough for the policy of Cyrus; who, by the Roman Cassius's test of 'Who gained by it?' cannot be accounted innocent.

The Medes were by no means made subject to the Persians at first. It is highly probable that, as Herodotus and Xenophon represent, many of the noblest Medes sided with Cyrus, and during his reign the most trusted generals of the armies were Medes. Yet even this hardly explains the phenomenon of a Darius the Mede, who, in the book of Daniel, for two years holds the government in Babylon, after the capture of the city by the Medes and Persians. Indeed, the language used concerning the kingdom of Darius might be explained as Oriental hyperbole, and Darius be supposed a mere satrap of Babylon, only that Cyrus is clearly put forward as a successor to Darius the Mede. Many have been the attempts to reconcile this with the current Grecian accounts; but there is one only that has the least plausibility, viz., that which, with Xenophon, teaches that Astyages had a son still living (whom Xenophon calls Cyaxares) and that this son is no other than Darius the Mede; to whom Cyrus, by a sort of nephew's piety, conceded a nominal supremacy at Babylon. Objections to this likewise are evident, but they must be discussed under Darius or the book of Daniel.

In the reign of the son of Cyrus the depression of the Medes probably commenced. At his death the Magian conspiracy took place, after the defeat of which the Medes doubtless sunk lower still. At a later time they made a general insurrection against the Persian power, and its suppression seems to have brought them to a level with Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and other vassal nations, which spoke the tongue of Persia.

The descriptions given us in Ctesias, and in Plutarch's Artaxerxes, concerning the Persian mode of fighting, are quite Homeric in their character. No skill seems to be needed by the general; no tactics are thought of: he does his duty best by behaving as the bravest of common soldiers, and by acting the part of champion, like a knight in the days of chivalry. We cannot suppose that there was any greater advance of the military art in the days of Cyrus. It is agreed by all that he subdued the Lydians, the Greeks of Asia Minor, and the Babylonians: we may doubtless add Susiana, which must have been incorporated with his empire before he commenced his war with Babylon; where also he fixed his military capital Susa, or Shushan), as more central for the necessities of his administration than Pasargadae. Yet the latter city continued to be the more sacred and beloved home of the Persian court, the place of coronation and of sepulture. All Syria and Phoenicia appear to have come over to Cyrus peaceably.

In regard to the Persian wars, the few facts from Ctesias, which the epitomator has extracted as differing from Herodotus, carry with them high probability. He states that, after receiving the submission of the Bactrians, Cyrus made war on the Sacians, a Scythian (i.e. a Sclavonic) people, who seem to have dwelt, or perhaps rather roved, along the Oxus, from Bokhara to Khiva; and, that, after alternate successes in battle, he attached the whole nation to himself in faithful allegiance. Their king is called Amorges by Ctesias. They are undoubtedly the same people that Herodotus calls Amyrgian Sacians; and it is highly probable that they gave to the district of Margiana its name. Their women fought in ranks, as systematically as the men. Strabo has cursorily told us of a tradition that Cyrus escaped with but seven men through the deserts of Getrosia, fleeing from the 'Indians'—which might denote an unsuccessful war against Candahar, etc. a country which certainly was not reduced to the Persian empire until the reign of Darius Hystaspis.

The closing scene of the career of Cyrus was in battle with a people living on one or both banks of the river Iaxartes, now the Syr-deria. Two battles were fought on successive days, in the former of which Cyrus was mortally wounded, but was carried off by his people. In the next, the Sacian cavalry and the faithful Amorges came to support him, and the enemy sustained a total and bloody defeat. Cyrus died the third day after his wound: his body was conveyed to Pasargadae, and buried in the celebrated monument, which was broken open by the Macedonians two centuries afterwards. The inscription, reported by Aristobulus, an eye-witness, is this:—'O man, I am Cyrus, who acquired the empire for the Persians, and was king of Asia. Grudge me not then this monument.'

The kings of Assyria and Babylon had carried the Jews into captivity, both to remove a disaffected nation from the frontier, and to people their new cities. By undoing this work, Cyrus attached the Jews to himself as a garrison at an important post. But we may believe that a nobler motive conspired with this. The Persian religion was primitively monotheistic, and strikingly free from idolatry; so little Pagan in its spirit, that, whatever of the mystical and obscure it may contain, not a single impure, cruel, or otherwise immoral practice was united to any of its ceremonies. It is credible, therefore, that a sincere admiration of the Jewish faith actuated the noble Persian when he exclaimed, in the words of the book of Ezra, 'Go ye up, and build in Jerusalem the house of Jehovah, God of Israel; He is God!'—and forced the Babylonian temples to disgorge their ill-gotten spoil. It is the more remarkable, since the Persians disapproved the confinement of temples. Nevertheless, impediments to the fortification of Jerusalem afterwards arose, even during the reign of Cyrus .

Perhaps no great conqueror ever left behind him a fairer fame than Cyrus the Great. His mighty achievements have been borne down to us on the voice of the nation which he elevated; his evil deeds had no historian to record them. What is more, it was his singular honor and privilege to be the first Gentile friend to the people of Jehovah in the time of their sorest trouble, and to restore them to the land whence light was to break forth for the illumination of all nations. To this high duty he is called by the prophet , and for performing it he seems to be entitled 'The righteous man' .

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [14]

Surnamed the

r the

he founder of the Persian empire; began his conquests by overthrowing his grandfather Astyages, king of the Medes; subdued Croesus, king of Lydia; laid siege to Babylon and took it, and finished by being master of all Western Asia; was a prince of great energy and generosity, and left the nations he subjected and rendered tributary free in the observances of their religions and the maintenance of their institutions; this is the story of the historians, but it has since been considerably modified by study of the ancient monuments (560-529 B.C.).

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Cyrus'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.