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Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD, the God of heaven, given me; and He hath charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whosoever there is among you of all His people--the LORD his God be with him--let him go up.

2 Chronicles 36:23 (JPS)

Here, Cyrus seems to believe that God (the god of the Jews) has the power to give him all kingdom in the earth. Does Cyrus in fact believe in God?

This is discussed further here: http://www.thephora.net/forum/showthread.php?t=62619

According to

http://biblehub.com/text/2_chronicles/36-23.htm

Cyrus say that Hashem (Y..H) is God of Shamayim (sky/heaven). It's as if he is admitting that Hashem is more than just God of jews.

He latter claim that Hashem is the god of the jews though and is located at Jerusalem (instead of everywhere at once like what modern theology would believe) http://biblehub.com/text/ezra/1-3.htm

So, some of what Cyrus said seems monotheistic. Hashem is God of Shamayim.

Latter he said Hashem is elohei yisrael and "the god that in Jerusalem". As if he is being henotheistic.

  • Very Interesting Yet How To knoW if excerpt from Cyrus 1 or 2? – Laura Methvin Apr 16 '17 at 3:56
  • Note that Cyrus is labeled as a "righteous king" who eventually "went sour" by Rosh Hashanah 3a-4a. – DonielF Apr 16 '17 at 4:58
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    I'm curious why this question was voted down. Sure, it can be fleshed out a bit more (maybe summarizing some of the discussion in the link?), but it seems like a reasonable question to me. – DonielF Apr 16 '17 at 5:13
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    Not a good idea to use Christian websites. Better use Sefaria – Dan Weisberg Apr 22 at 11:49
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There are records of Cyrus also restoring the gods of Babylon that Nabonidus, the last king of the Babylonian Empire, had moved from various Babylonian cities to the capital. That means that he promoted polytheism in that instance as a way to strengthen support from priests of Marduk in Babylon and the priests of Nabu in Sippar. This was undoing the work of Nabonidus in elevating the moon god Sin of the city of Haran over the traditional Babylonian balance of deities/cities.

The Edict of Cyrus that the Chronicler and Ezra write about was also extended to many other nations, not just the exiled Judeans. This casts much doubt as to whether Cyrus was motivated by belief in the One God or by political pragmatism.

From "The Cyrus Cylinder", written by a Babylonian scribe at the beginning of Cyrus's reign:

"When I, Cyrus, entered the city of Babylon peaceably and established to jubilation my royal seat in the Palace of the Ruler, the great Lord Marduk, turned the hearts of many inhabitants of Babylon to love me and I daily sought to worship him. My vast armies paraded peacefully about Babylon, I did not let one frighten the people of Shumer and Akkad. I shepherded in peace the within Babylon and all the sacred cities. The people of Babylon, upon whom he [Nabonidus] against the will of the gods imposed the yoke which did not befit them, I relieved of their sorrows and removed their burden. Upon which Marduk, the great Lord rejoiced at my virtuous deeds and graciously blessed me - Cyrus the King who worships him, Cambyses my son the offspring of my loins, and all my army; and in harmony before him, we praise his supreme divinity."

"All the kings of the world, from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea, those who inhabit, and all the nomad kings of the West, the tent dwellers, brought their sumptuous gifts into Babylon, and kissed my feet. From Nineveh to the cities of Ashur, Shushan, and Akkad, the Land of Eshnunna and the cities of Zamban, Meturnu, Der and as far as the boundary of the Land of the Gutians [highlanders of Kurdistan], across the Tigris whose temples were destroyed in the distant past, to all of these I have restored and returned their own gods and I have set them up on their eternal seats. I have assembled all their dispersed people and restored them to their habitations."

Cyrus Cylinder - Lines 22-32, translated by Hayim Tadmor in "The Historical Background of the Edict of Cyrus" in "Oz-le-David", Jerusalem, 1964

Source: A History of the Jewish People, edited by H. H. Ben-Sasson

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    Doesn't seem to be a Torah source – Shmuel Brin Jan 10 '14 at 2:18
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    @ShmuelBrin What is wrong with citing a document Cyrus wrote to understand his beliefs? – Double AA Jan 12 '14 at 1:05
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Ezra 1:2

כֹּ֣ה אָמַ֗ר כֹּ֚רֶשׁ מֶ֣לֶךְ פָּרַ֔ס כֹּ֚ל מַמְלְכ֣וֹת הָאָ֔רֶץ נָ֣תַן לִ֔י יְהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם וְהֽוּא־פָקַ֤ד עָלַי֙ לִבְנֽוֹת־ל֣וֹ בַ֔יִת בִּירוּשָׁלִַ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר בִּֽיהוּדָֽה׃

Thus said King Cyrus of Persia: The LORD God of Heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has charged me with building Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

Ibn Ezra comments on this verse with the following:

.'אלהי השמים - ולא אמר אלהי הארץ כי כבר נתנה לבני אדם. וכן הוא אומר: כל ממלכות הארץ נתן לי ה

G-d of the heavens - and he did not say "G-d of the earth" because it was already given to mankind. And also he says: "From all the kingdoms of the earth that G-d has given to me."

(Translation of Ibn Ezra mine)

In the Ibn Ezra's view, Cyrus believed that G-d ruled over the heavens and left earthly affairs in charge of mighty kings.

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