The Cylinder of Cyrus
The prophet Ezra writes, “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and put it in writing: ‘This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel; the God who is in Jerusalem”‘“ (Ezra 1:1–2).
At this time, known as the exilic period, the majority of the Israelites were living in Persia and only a remnant remained in Jerusalem. A clay tablet inscribed with cuneiform writing, found in the nineteenth century, says that Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem so that the temple could be rebuilt. The tablet dates to 538 B.C.
Look in the Book
The passage 2 Kings 3:4–5 says, “Now Mesha king of Moab raised sheep, and he had to supply the king of Israel with 100,000 lambs and with the wool of 100,000 rams. But after Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel.” The Moabite stone, found in 1868, details King Mesha's plan to rebel against Omri the new king of Israel—even calling him by name. Many believe this confirms the biblical account.