Ezra 1:1-11


Verse 1-5 - The proclamation of Cyrus.


Verse 1, Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

I.    The first year of Cyrus, King of Persia.

A.  This is not really the first year of Cyrus reign over Persia, for his reign began in the year 559 B. C., or some 23 years before Ezra 1:1.

B.   This verse teaches us a principle that God always numbers this world and the kingdoms of this world according to how they relate to Israel and Jerusalem, not according to how they relate to each other.

1.   It is also interesting to note that Cyrus began his reign over Persia in the same year that Belshazzar began his reign over Babylon.

2.   God had prepared the kingdoms of this world for a take over years before He needed them.

3.   Sometimes, God arranges circumstances quickly, and sometimes He doesn't.

a.   Nobody thought it was possible for Russia to fall so quickly, but they fell in almost one year, (1991).

b.   Nobody would have thought that Rome would have fallen so quickly, for they had dominion over almost the entire civilized world.  They fell in a little over one year.


II.   God rules in the hearts and minds of kings and peasant alike.  It is no accident that the kingdom of Persia overcame Babylon in this particular year.

A.  I believe it is particularly important to notice that God works exactly alike in the hearts of kings and the common man.

1.   We, who are the "common" of the world, do not need to fear what the rulers of this world will do.

2.   God holds them in his hands.

3.   We may think they are "unreachable", and they may be as far as we are concerned, but God knows their thoughts and feelings, and has total control over them.

4.   This is why we ought to pray for those over us in government and obey them in the Lord, for this is right.

B.   We do not have to worry about whether or not our government officials are saved or not.

1.   There has been a great deal said lately about whether or governmental leaders were "born again", or "saved", or "Christian".

2.   It is very good when our leaders are followers of God, but God can also make a lost man follow Him.

a.   Prov. 28:15 - A wicked ruler is like a roaring lion.

b.   Prov. 28:2 - The righteous rejoice when the righteous are in authority, but they mourn when the wicked rules.

C.   God stirred up the heart of Cyrus.

1.   Isaiah 44:28 - God named Cyrus at least 200 years before he was born to be a deliverer of the Jews, that they might build the temple, laying the foundation during his reign.  (It is very remarkable indeed that only the foundation was laid during his reign!  For when Cyrus died and Artaxerxes took over the rule, he stopped the building of the temple.)

2.   Isaiah 45:1-6 - God, through the prophet Isaiah, explains to Cyrus what He has done when Cyrus didn't know God.


III. How Daniel fits with Ezra.

A.  A study of Daniel chapter 5 shows that Belshazzar, while giving a great feast, saw the handwriting on the wall.

1.   Only Daniel could interpret the writing which revealed that God had numbered the kingdom of Babylon and would finish it (Daniel 5:25,26).

2.   Daniel 5:27 - Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

3.   Daniel 5:28 - Thy kingdom is divided, and is given to the Medes and Persians.

4.   Daniel 5:30,31 - "In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.  And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old."

B.   Daniel 9:1 - In the first year of Darius, Daniel discovered by reading the prophet Jeremiah that the Babylon captivity would last 70 years.

1.   A simple calculation by Daniel would reveal that the first year of Darius the Mede was the 71st year of the captivity, thus he would understand the 70 year Babylon captivity would be over.

2.   Daniel was alive during the first part of Ezra when Cyrus the king made the proclamation that any Jew that wanted to return to Jerusalem to build the temple go free.

a.   Daniel didn't go back to Jerusalem because of his old age, although his heart was probably in the move.

b.   Daniel had probably died before 7 more years pass.

c.   The reason I believe this is because in Ezra 4:6-24, the opposers to the rebuilding of the temple wrote to Ahasuerus (who reigned after Cyrus the Persian and Darius the Mede) to stop the temple work.

d.   If Daniel had been alive, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have advised Ahasuerus of the proper motive of the Jews and the order of King Cyrus and the work would never have stopped.

e.   The only other explanation is that Daniel either knew nothing of the letter to Ahasuerus to stop the work, or was to infirm to do anything to help the Jews.

C.   Daniel could have told Cyrus about God's plan to rebuild Jerusalem.

1.   It is very possible that Daniel and Cyrus talked about rebuilding Jerusalem, but there is nothing in scripture to indicate they did.

2.   History, through the Arabic write, Abulpharag, (Hist. Hynast. Dyn. 5. p. 32.) {for the source of my information see: John Gill Commentary, Ezra, page 104} tells us that Cyrus married a sister of Zerubbabel, and it was at her request that the Jews were allowed to return to the land of Israel.


IV. How do the Medes and the Persians fit?

A.  It must be understood that the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians are a joint rule at this point.

B.   The Medes had "merged" with the Persians when the Persians captured the Median king in 559 B. C.

C.   So Darius the Mede was actually "working" for Cyrus when he overran Babylon and killed Belshazzar.


V.  The decree was put in writing.

A.  The writing of the Medes and Persians was irrevocable, thus could never be changed at all.

1.   This shows they were a very proud people, for they believed if they put their decrees in writing, they were so good, they would never need to be changed.

2.   It is not good for any people to be that proud.

B.   Daniel 6:8 - The three presidents had King Darius sign a decree against Daniel, and even King Darius himself couldn't change the decree, even when he discovered that it was against his good friend and excellent employee, Daniel.


Verse 2-4, The decree of Cyrus.


Verse 2, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

I.    The Persian kingdom did not include all the kingdoms of the earth.

A.  It was the largest kingdom on the earth at that time.

B.   Actually, it was the largest kingdom to be on the earth since the creation of the world.

C.   Other kingdoms that were in existence.

1.   Rome - At this time, Rome was not the world wide kingdom it would become by the time of Christ.  It included only one small, insignificant nation.

2.   China - At this time, China was pretty much the same kingdom it is today.

3.   Greece - This kingdom includes Sparta, and Athens.  These countries will be overcome by Alexander the Great about 320 B. C.


II.   Cyrus gives God the glory for his success.

A.  All rulers ought to give God glory for their kingdoms.

B.   Nebuchadnezzar didn't give God the glory.

1.   He walked through his gardens, declaring what his power and his might had done.

2.   He spent the next seven years eating grass like an ox.

3.   At the end of the seven years, God gave him back his right mind, and he gave God glory for his kingdom.


Verse 3,4, Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. {4} And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

I.    Cyrus gives the invitation to all who would accept it.

A.  This decree is not for just the Jews only.

1.   Cyrus declares that all who belong to God can go.

2.   There are some people who are not Jews who will go to Jerusalem to help build the temple.

3.   Cyrus was not a Jew, so he would understand a person who was not a Jew, but was also a believer in God.

B.   This decree is not just for the believers living in Babylon.

1.   The kingdom of the Medes and Persians fills almost the entire world.

2.   Anybody in all the kingdom who wants to can go to Jerusalem to build the temple.

C.   This is a great departure from the normal.

1.   Usually, when a king takes over another kingdom, he decides which of the people will go where, and when they will go.

2.   Cyrus will probably move a lot of people around, but he is approaching the believers with a "hands off" policy.

3.   He will not bother them, if they want to return to Jerusalem to build the temple, which God has laid on his heart.

4.   Only God can move in kingdoms like this!


II.   It is very interesting that the command is build a temple.

A.  There is no command to build a wall first.

1.   The wall would be for protection.

2.   If the wall would be build first, then the people would have protection while building the temple.

3.   It really doesn't make much sense to build a temple without some protection.

4.   We must realize that sometimes God gives us commands that don't make sense to the natural man.

5.   God will protect His temple.

6.   God will use His people to protect His temple.

B.   The temple will be build first so the people will have a place to worship.

1.   God is teaching that worship is more important than anything else.

2.   Matt. 6:33 - If we put God first, He will give us all the material things we need.

C.   The wall will be build later under the leadership of Nehemiah.


III. Those people that can't or won't go to Jerusalem are commanded to help those that go.

A.  The poor and rich alike would be able to return to Jerusalem.

1.   It's almost a perfect society when the poor and rich alike are able to worship God according to the desire of their hearts.

2.   In God's society, the widow who gave two pence gave more than the rich who gave in their abundance.

B.   There might be some believers who wouldn't go to Jerusalem until they were assured of the success of building the temple.

1.   These people are especially commanded to help those that are willing to go before they know it will be a success.

2.   Eccl. 7:8, Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

3.   The beginning of a thing is always harder than the ending.

4.   At the beginning of a thing, mistakes will be made that won't show up until later.

5.   At the beginning, nobody can really tell how the thing will turn out, but near the end, almost anybody can tell.


Verse 5-7 - The result of the proclamation.


{5} Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. {6} And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

I.    The command was obeyed.

A.  A command could be obeyed out of legal obligation.

B.   This command was obeyed because God stirred up the hearts of the people to obey.

1.   This is the way to obey all commands.

2.   If we only obey because we are forced to, there won't be any joy in our hearts, or any reward for us.


II.   The people that decided to return to Jerusalem.

A.  The chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin.

1.   Judah and Benjamin was the two tribes that made up the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

2.   Jerusalem and the temple is located in Judah, so it would be expected that these people would want to return to Jerusalem.

B.   The Priests.

1.   These are of the tribe of Levi, especially chosen of God to fulfill the office of priest, carrying out the worship in the temple.

2.   These people would naturally (spiritually) feel a great desire to return to Jerusalem, rebuild the temple, and reestablish the worship of Jehovah.

3.   Not only is this their God appointed station in life, it is also their desire to be a blessing to Israel, causing them to return to true worship.

C.   The Levites.

1.   These are all the people of Levi, men and women included.

2.   Some of these people have the responsibility of providing vital "behind the scenes" work that will allow the temple worship to progress as necessary.

D.  All the people whose spirit God raised up.

1.   In truth, the only people who will return are those people whom the spirit of God raised up.

2.   There is a difference, however, in why these people returned as compared to the chief rulers, priests and Levites.

3.   The chief rulers, priests and Levites have a responsibility to do the things they do.

4.   The common people have no responsibility (like the chief rulers, priests, and Levites).

5.   They do what they do because the spirit of God gave them the desire.

6.   I personally believe this is a greater work than the person who serves God because of a responsibility he has.


III. Strengthening the hands of those that go.

A.  Sometimes we believe that those that go are doing the greatest work.

1.   This is a very necessary thing to do.

2.   If nobody goes, then nothing will be done.

B.   There are those people who want to go, but are unable to go.

1.   Those people support those that go by giving of their physical possessions so the work can be done.

a.   Not everybody is called to preach.

b.   Those that are called ought to preach and those that aren't called should support those that are called.

2.   The blessing is the same for all.

3.   I Samuel 30:21-25 - David divided the spoil equally between those that had the strength to follow and those that didn't have the strength.

4.   This is what God for us.

a.   If God calls us and we are able to follow Him, He expects us to, and will reward us accordingly.

b.   If God doesn't call us, and we support those whom He has called, God will reward us accordingly.

c.   Matt. 10:38-42 - Those that receive a prophet (preacher or pastor) in the name of that prophet, is actually receiving God (who sent him) and shall receive the reward of that prophet (preacher or pastor).

C.   They gave precious things.

1.   Nothing was to good for their God.

2.   They didn't give their scraps or things they were going to throw away anyway.

3.   They didn't clean out their closets and try to sell their old junk in a rummage sale for God.

4.   They would never see these possessions again, but they still weren't selfish with those precious items.


Verse 7-11 - The gifts of Cyrus.


{7} Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; {8} Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. {9} And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives, {10} Thirty basins of gold, silver basins of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. {11} All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.

I.    These things actually belonged to Cyrus.

A.  They belonged to Babylon because God gave them to them.

B.   When Darius took over Babylon, everything that belonged to Babylon became the property of the Medes and Persians.

C.   Cyrus gives them because he knows they actually belong to God.

1.   These items will be used in the service of God.

2.   This shows that Cyrus is not opposed to the blood sacrifices Israel will offer.

3.   There is a good possibility that he is completely in favor of blood sacrifices, for he does give God the glory for his kingdom.


II.   An amazing thing is that these items still existed.

A.  It is a wonder that these precious things were not melted down and used to make something else, more in keeping with the tradition of the Babylonians.

1.   God would not allow His worship articles to be destroyed.

2.   Instead He would keep those items so the Jews could use them when they returned to Jerusalem and started the worship of Jehovah again.

B.   Belshazzar used the items in his wild party, but God stopped their abuse by the hand writing on the wall.


III. The items Cyrus gave.

A.  He gave them from the right person to the right person.

1.   His treasurer, Mithredath, gave them to Sheshbazzar, the prince (or ruler) of Judah.

2.   There was an accounting made of each individual item.

3.   It is always good to keep track of everything.

4.   Is this scripture against Matt. 6:3, "but when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what they right hand doeth:"?

a.   No, Matt. 6:3 means that we are not to brag about, or count as loss what we have given to God.

b.   Matt. 6:3 is also talking about alms, not about tithes and offerings.

c.   It is not a good idea to let every beggar know that you give alms, for there will be a never ending line at your door to receive your money.

d.   It is good and right to let others know you give tithes and offerings, as an encouragement to them, not to receive any undue praise from them.

B.   The items Cyrus gave.


Chargers of Gold



Chargers of silver






Basins of Gold



Silver Basins



Other Basins





C.   *The number doesn't add up.

1.   The number given comes to 2,499.

2.   This is probably the number of the larger vessels.

3.   The rest were probably smaller vessels that weren't numbered because of their size and the different types and uses.

4.   They were not categorized because of their vast number and variation of size, use, and material.

5.   Their value was not as great as the gold and silver vessels.