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  3. The Story of Queen Esther – Fact or Fiction Part 5: Decree Made By Cyrus
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  3. The Story of Queen Esther – Fact or Fiction Part 5: Decree Made By Cyrus
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  3. The Story of Queen Esther – Fact or Fiction Part 5: Decree Made By Cyrus

The Story of Queen Esther – Fact or Fiction Part 5: Decree Made By Cyrus

It is very important for me to tell you about two other decrees that were passed by Persian kings to benefit me and my people.

Daniel’s prayer had been offered “in the first year of Darius” (Daniel 11:1), the Median monarch whose general, Cyrus, had wrested from Babylonia the sceptre of universal rule. The reign of Darius was honoured of God.

To him was sent the angel Gabriel, “to confirm and to strengthen him.” Daniel 11:1. Upon his death, within about two years of the fall of Babylon, Cyrus succeeded to the throne, and the beginning of his reign marked the completion of the seventy years since the first company of Hebrews had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar from their Judean home to Babylon.

The deliverance of Daniel from the den of lions had been used of God to create a favourable impression upon the mind of Cyrus the Great. The sterling qualities of the man of God as a statesman of far-seeing ability led the Persian ruler to show him marked respect and to honour his judgment.

And now, just at the time God had said He would cause His temple at Jerusalem to be rebuilt, He moved upon Cyrus as His agent to discern the prophecies concerning himself, with which Daniel was so familiar, and to grant my people their liberty.

As the king saw the words foretelling, more than a hundred years before his birth, the way Babylon should be taken; as he read the message addressed to him by the Ruler of the universe, saying: “I will gird you, though you have not known Me.”

As Cyrus saw before his eyes the declaration of the eternal God:

“For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.”

When I read this in my Shushan palace, I could visualise his body language. “Is this what the Hebrew prophet prophesied of me?”

His surprise grew exponentially when he read the following amazing prediction:

“I have raised him up in righteousness, And I will direct all his ways; He shall build My city And let My exiles go free, Not for price nor reward,” Says the LORD of hosts. Isaiah 45:13

I think he said to himself: “Is this real? Is it possible? Will I really sent all these thousands of Jewish exiles back to Jerusalem and even pay for the very expensive repatriation?”

I knew he reacted positively after he read this amazing prophecy that was given almost 200 years before his birth. I spent many hours with Atossa his daughter who told me about this incident and many others as well. I have read this in Isaiah 45:5, 6, 4, 13. I recommend that you read this amazing chapter for yourself.

My mother-in-law, queen Atossa told me what her father, king Cyrus did. It is recorded by a Jewish scribe who lived in Jerusalem, called Ezra. She said it is difficult to describe the joy of the Jews who longed to return to their beloved city Jerusalem.

I am going to read the decree as recorded by Ezra.

Ezr 1:1  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 

Ezr 1:2  Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. 

Ezr 1:3  Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. 

Ezr 1:4  And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. 

The deliverance of Daniel from the den of lions had been used of God to create a favourable impression upon the mind of Cyrus the Great. The sterling qualities of the man of God as a statesman of far-seeing ability led the Persian ruler to show him marked respect and to honour his judgment.

Darius further directed regarding the temple structure, the place where they offered sacrifices; and let the foundations of it be firmly laid, its height sixty cubits and its width sixty cubits, with three rows of heavy stones and one row of new timber. Let the expenses be paid from the king’s treasury. 

Also let the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple which is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and taken back to the temple which is in Jerusalem, each to its place; and deposit them in the house of God”— he further directed regarding the temple structure, Ezra 6:3-5.

Tidings of this decree reached the farthermost provinces of the king’s realm, and everywhere among the children of the dispersion there was great rejoicing. Many, like Daniel, had been studying the prophecies, and had been seeking God for His promised intervention on behalf of Zion. And now their prayers were being answered; and with heartfelt joy they could unite in singing:

“When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, We were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing: Then said they among the heathen, The Lord haa done great things for them. The Lord has done great things for us; Whereof we are glad.”  Psalm 126:1-3.

I must tell you. This was a tremendous moment in our history. Of course, I was not part of the rejoicing, but my uncle Mordecai told me about this national Jewish rejoicing.

“The chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised”—these were the goodly remnant, about fifty thousand strong, from among the Jews in the lands of exile, who determined to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity offered them “to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.”

Their friends did not permit them to go empty-handed. “All they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things.”

And to these and many other voluntary offerings were added “the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem; … even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithridate the treasurer, … five thousand and four hundred” in number, for use in the temple that was to be rebuilt. Ezra 1:5-11.

Upon Zerubbabel (known also as Sheshbazzar), a descendant of King David, Cyrus placed the responsibility of acting as governor of the company returning to Judea; and with him was associated Joshua the high priest.

The long journey across the desert wastes was accomplished in safety, and the happy company, grateful to God for His many mercies, at once undertook the work of re-establishing that which had been broken down and destroyed.

 “The chief of the fathers” led out in offering of their substance to help defray the expense of rebuilding the temple; and the people, following their example, gave freely of their meagre store. See Ezra 2:64-70.

As speedily as possible, an altar was erected on the site of the ancient altar in the temple court. To the exercises connected with the dedication of this altar, the people had “gathered themselves together as one man;” and there they united in re-establishing the sacred services that had been interrupted at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

Before separating to dwell in the homes they were endeavouring to restore, “they kept also the Feast of Tabernacles.” Ezra 3:1-6.

The setting up of the altar of daily burnt offerings greatly cheered the faithful remnant. Heartily they entered the preparations necessary for the rebuilding of the temple, gathering courage as these preparations advanced from month to month.

They had for many years been deprived of the visible tokens of God’s presence. And now, surrounded as they were by many sad reminders of the apostasy of their fathers, they longed for some abiding token of divine forgiveness and favour.

Above the regaining of personal property and ancient privileges, they valued the approval of God. Wonderfully had He wrought in their behalf, and they felt the assurance of His presence with them; yet they desired greater blessings still.

With joyous anticipation they looked forward to the time when, with temple rebuilt, they might behold the shining forth of His glory from within.

The workmen engaged in the preparation of the building material, found among the ruins some of the immense stones brought to the temple site in the days of Solomon. These were made ready for use, and much new material was provided; and soon the work was advanced to the point where the foundation stone must be laid.

This was done in the presence of many thousands who had assembled to witness the progress of the work and to give expression to their joy in having a part in it. While the cornerstone was being set in position, the people, accompanied by the trumpets of the priests and the cymbals of the sons of Asaph, “sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Verse 11.

The house that was about to be rebuilt had been the subject of many prophecies concerning the favour that God desired to show Zion, and all who were present at the laying of the cornerstone should have entered heartily into the spirit of the occasion.

Yet mingled with the music and the shouts of praise that were heard on that glad day, was a discordant note. “Many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice.” Verse 12.

My uncle Mordecai told me it was natural that sadness should fill the hearts of these aged men, as they thought of the results of long-continued impenitence. Had they and their generation obeyed God, and carried out His purpose for Israel, the temple built by Solomon would not have been destroyed and the captivity would not have been necessary. But because of ingratitude and disloyalty they had been scattered among the heathen.

Conditions were now changed. In tender mercy the Lord had again visited His people and allowed them to return to their own land. Sadness because of the mistakes of the past should have given way to feelings of great joy.

God had moved upon the heart of Cyrus to aid them in rebuilding the temple, and this should have called forth expressions of profound gratitude. But some failed of discerning God’s opening providences. Instead of rejoicing, they cherished thoughts of discontent and discouragement. They had seen the glory of Solomon’s temple, and they lamented because of the inferiority of the building now to be erected.

The murmuring and complaining, and the unfavourable comparisons made, had a depressing influence on the minds of many and weakened the hands of the builders. The workmen were led to question whether they should proceed with the erection of a building that at the beginning was so freely criticized and was the cause of so much lamentation.

As a young girl growing up in my uncle’s home of have seen this in the lives of people. There are unhappy ingrateful people and fortunately also happy grateful people on this planet.

There were many in the congregation, however, whose larger faith and broader vision did not lead them to view this lesser glory with such dissatisfaction. “Many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.” Verses 12, 13.

When my uncle told me about those that sang a little loader, I decided the sing a little loader about the goodness of my God in such a manner that the voices of the trials and unfair treatment would not be heard.

Could those who failed to rejoice at the laying of the foundation stone of the temple have foreseen the results of their lack of faith on that day, they would have been appalled. Little did they realize the weight of their words of disapproval and disappointment; little did they know how much their expressed dissatisfaction would delay the completion of the Lord’s house.

The magnificence of the first temple, and the imposing rites of its religious services, had been a source of pride to Israel before their captivity; but their worship had ofttimes been lacking in those qualities which God regards as most essential.

The glory of the first temple, the splendour of its service, could not recommend them to God; for that which is alone of value in His sight, they did not offer. They did not bring Him the sacrifice of a humble and contrite spirit.

It is when the vital principles of the kingdom of God are lost sight of, that ceremonies become multitudinous and extravagant.


We are going to look at the eschatological aspects of what happened during the death decree issued against the Jewish nation.

Updated on 2nd Dec 2022

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