Comment: Cyrus the Great, Founder of Iran

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Cyrus the Great, Founder of Iran

"And those who were subject to him, he treated with esteem and regard, as if they were his own children, while his subjects themselves respected Cyrus as their 'Father' ... What other man but 'Cyrus', after having overturned an empire, ever died with the title of 'The Father' from the people whom he had brought under his power? For it is plain fact that this is a name for one that bestows, rather than for one that takes away!" - Xenophon

Alexander the Great was himself infatuated with and admired Cyrus the Great, from an early age reading Xenophon's Cyropaedia, which described Cyrus's heroism in battle and governance and his abilities as a king and a legislator.[85] During his visit to Pasargadae he ordered Aristobulus to decorate the interior of the sepulchral chamber of his tomb.

Cyrus has been a personal hero to many people, including: Thomas Jefferson, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and David Ben-Gurion.

The policies of Cyrus with respect to treatment of minority religions are well documented in Babylonian texts as well as Jewish sources and the historians accounts. Cyrus had a general policy of religious tolerance throughout his vast empire. Whether this was a new policy or the continuation of policies followed by the Babylonians and Assyrians (as Lester Grabbe maintains)[89] is disputed. He brought peace to the Babylonians and is said to have kept his army away from the temples and restored the statues of the Babylonian gods to their sanctuaries.[13]

His treatment of the Jews during their exile in Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar II destroyed Jerusalem is reported in the Bible. The Jewish Bible's Ketuvim ends in Second Chronicles with the decree of Cyrus, which returned the exiles to the Promised Land from Babylon along with a commission to rebuild the temple.

'Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth hath Yahweh, 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 – may Yahweh, his God, be with him – let him go there.' (2 Chronicles 36:23)

This edict is also fully reproduced in the Book of Ezra.

In the first year of King Cyrus, Cyrus the king issued a decree: 'Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the temple, the place where sacrifices are offered, be rebuilt and let its foundations be retained, its height being 60 cubits and its width 60 cubits; with three layers of huge stones and one layer of timbers. And let the cost be paid from the royal treasury. Also let the gold and silver utensils of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be returned and brought to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; and you shall put them in the house of God.' (Ezra 6:3–5)

As a result of Cyrus's policies, the Jews honored him as a dignified and righteous king. He is the only Gentile to be designated as Messiah, a divinely appointed leader, in the Tanakh (Isaiah 45:1–6). Isaiah 45:13: "I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says Yahweh Almighty." As the text suggests, Cyrus did ultimately release the nation of Israel from its exile without compensation or tribute.