US State Department: Cyrus Cylinder: Ancient Persia Foreshadowed Modern Values

By Lea Terhune, US Department of State’s IIP Digital:

Unlike ancient Chinese and Egyptians, who wrote much about what they did and how well they did it, British Museum Director Neil MacGregor said, “The Persians just did it. They don’t write about how they did it. They left no memoirs” about their great lives and times. We know what happened from Greek and Jewish sources.

The Cyrus Cylinder has special significance to Jews, because it alludes to their return to Jerusalem, which is supported by biblical references. In the Book of Isaiah (44:28), God says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, Let it be rebuilt, and of the temple, Let its foundations be laid,” and goes on to call Cyrus “anointed” by God. Other references may be found in 2 Chronicles and the Book of Ezra.

Cyrus held sway over the largest known early empire. It eventually encompassed the entire eastern Mediterranean, extending from Libya in the west to Afghanistan in the east. Cyrus had to devise a system to rule this unprecedented diverse, multilingual, multicultural and multireligious empire. Tolerance was the hallmark of this efficient system, which lasted 200 years, until Alexander the Great conquered the region.

Read the article: Cyrus Cylinder: Ancient Persia Foreshadowed Modern Values