RETURN

By the year 538 B.C. Cyrus the Great was ruler over an empire that stretched from the Indus River to the Aegean Islands and down to the borders of Egypt, the largest empire that had ever been known. To his throne he brought not only military skill and talent for governing but a deep respect for the gods of all peoples, seeing in them the servants of his own Persian god.

Coming to Babylon soon after its capitulation he found that Nabonidus, foreseeing defeat, had gathered the gods of the surrounding towns into the city. These King Cyrus promptly sent back to their homes, that their people might not remain unprotected:

...that the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah
might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus
king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his
kingdoms, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the
kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me;
and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem,
which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people?
The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.
(2 Chronicles 36:22,23)

What a day of gladness for Judah! Second Isaiah gave eloquent expression to his people's joy:

Sing, 0 ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower
parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, 0 forest,
and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and
glorified himself in Israel. (Isaiah 44:23)