PORTRAITS FROM THE PAST
Cyrus the Great
According to our modern calendar, on the night of October 5/6, 539 B.C.E., the seemingly impossible happened to the city of Babylon, capital of the Babylonian Empire. On that fateful night, the city was overthrown by an army of Medes and Persians, commanded by Persian King Cyrus, also known as Cyrus the Great. His strategy was brilliant.
HOW CYRUS CAPTURED BABYLON
“When Cyrus set his sights on Babylon it was already the most venerable of Middle Eastern cities
Upstream from Babylon, Cyrus’ men diverted the Euphrates, causing the water level in the city to fall. The soldiers then waded into the river to the city gates, which had been left open, and took Babylon with little resistance. According to Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon, the Babylonians felt so secure behind their city’s defenses that on the night of the attack, many were feasting, including the king! (See the box “The Handwriting Is on the Wall.”) Moreover, Cyrus’ conquest fulfilled some amazing Bible prophecies.
Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon was foretold in the Bible
The prophecies of Isaiah are especially noteworthy because they were recorded about 200 years in advance
A man named Cyrus would conquer Babylon and free the Jews.
—Isaiah 44:28; 45:1.
The Euphrates River would dry up, opening the way for Cyrus’ army.
The city gates would be left open.
Babylon’s military would ‘cease to fight.’
—Jeremiah 51:30; Isaiah 13:1, 7.
A MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE
Earlier, in 607 B.C.E., Babylonian armies razed Jerusalem and led most of the survivors into exile. How long would the Jews be held? God said: “When seventy years have been fulfilled I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation . . . and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite.”
As mentioned, Cyrus captured Babylon in 539 B.C.E. Soon thereafter, he released the Jews, who began to arrive in their homeland in 537 B.C.E.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
Consider this: The Bible foretold (1) the 70-year exile of the Jews, (2) Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon and key aspects of his strategy, and (3) the ultimate desolation of Babylon. Such advance knowledge could not come from mere men! A more reasonable conclusion is this: “Prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:21) Surely, the Bible merits our consideration.
^ par. 36 The terms refer to monetary weight. For a detailed explanation, see chapter 7 of the book Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy! published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.