A weakling [Nabonidus, r. 556-539] was installed as the king of his [the god Marduk’s]
country [Babylon]; he removed the correct images of the gods and replaced them with
imitations. . . .
He blabbered incorrect rituals. . . .
He changed the worship of Marduk, the
king of the gods, into abomination.
. . .
The people of Babylon complained, and the Lord of
the gods became very angry. . . .
He [Marduk, king of the gods] scanned and looked through
all the countries [of the world], searching for a righteous ruler to lead Marduk in the annual
He [Marduk] pronounced the name of Cyrus, king of Persia to become ruler of
all the world. . . .
God ordered Cyrus to march against his city Babylon. . . .
Babylon without a battle. . . .
The people happily greeted him as a master through whose
help they had come to life from death.
. . .
I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, legitimate king, king of Babylon, king of
Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, son of Cambyses. . . .
Marduk, the great lord,
was well pleased with my deeds and sent friendly blessings to me, Cyrus.
. . .
All the kings
of the entire world, from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea, . . . brought their heavy tributes
and kissed my feet in Babylon. . . .
May all the gods whom I have resettled in their sacred
cities as daily Bel [Ba’al] and Nebo for a long life for me.
[Cyrus the Great, Babylonian, -530]
adapted from J. Pritchard,
The ancient Near East; an anthology of texts and pictures
(Princeton, 1969) p. 206-208
aIn the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, bthat 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 cthat he
made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the
kingdoms of the earth, and dhe has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in
3 Whoever 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 rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel—ehe is the
God who is in Jerusalem.
4 And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by
the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings
for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”
Unit Seven: Persians