NEARLY two years have passed since Babylon was captured by the Medes and the Persians. And look what is happening now! Yes, the Israelites are leaving Babylon. How did they get free? Who let them go?
Cyʹrus, the king of Persia, did. Long before Cyʹrus was born, Jehovah had his prophet Isaiah write about him: ‘You will do just what I want you to do. The gates will be left open for you to capture the city.’ And Cyʹrus did take the lead in capturing Babylon. The Medes and the Persians came into the city at night through gates that had been left open.
But Jehovah’s prophet Isaiah also said that Cyʹrus would give the command for Jerusalem and its temple to be built again. Did Cyʹrus give this command? Yes, he did. This is what Cyʹrus tells the Israelites: ‘Go, now, to Jerusalem and build the temple of Jehovah, your God.’ And this is just what these Israelites are on their way to do.
But not all the Israelites in Babylon can make the long trip back to Jerusalem. It is a long, long trip of about 500 miles (800 kilometers) and many are too old or too sick to travel so far. And there are other reasons why some people don’t go. But Cyʹrus tells those that don’t go: ‘Give silver and gold and other gifts to the people who are going back to build Jerusalem and its temple.’
So, many gifts are given to these Israelites who are on their way to Jerusalem. Also, Cyʹrus gives them the bowls and the cups that King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar had taken from Jehovah’s temple when he destroyed Jerusalem. The people have a lot of things to carry back with them.
After about four months of traveling, the Israelites get back to Jerusalem right on time. It is just 70 years since the city was destroyed, and the land was left completely empty of people. But though the Israelites are now back in their own country they will have some hard times, as we will learn next.