The nobles and elite of Judean society remained in Babylonian captivity years after they were driven out from Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. After seventy years, another powerful kingdom rose east of Mesopotamia led by King Cyrus of Persia of the Achaemenid dynasty. Who allowed the Jews their freedom which is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart around mid 500 BC. After securing his kingdom in 554 BC, Cyrus looked outward and conquered neighboring states which included the Neo-Babylonian empire.
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By 539 BC, Cyrus had defeated Babylon’s last king Nabonidus. Cyrus was known as a clever strategist and a savvy political king, and he presented himself as a liberator of the people conquered by Babylon. He was tolerant of other religions, and one of his greatest acts as king was to free the Jews who lived in captivity in Babylon since the time of Nebuchadnezzar. His goodness to the Jews was so appreciated that he was considered as the only foreign messiah (Isaiah 45:1-13) chosen by the Lord.
The Jews, led by Zerubbabel and others, traveled from Babylon in 538 BC, and the full list of people who returned with him is listed in the 2nd chapter of Ezra. Upon their arrival, some of the people settled in Jerusalem while others returned to their own towns. They began to rebuild the temple during the second year after they arrived in Jerusalem (Ezra 3:8).
Picture By Jacob van Loo – http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Zerubbabel-Showing-a-Plan-of-Jerusalem-to-Cyrus-Posters_i1739460_.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5972166
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