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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Cyrus

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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.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Cyrus'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/c/cyrus.html. 1909.

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