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CYRUS (6th century B.C.E.).

One of the great conqueror-kings of the ancient world and founder of the Persian Empire. When this Median prince took Babylon in 539 B.C.E. he found there Jews who had been led into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar 50 years earlier. Cyrus permitted them to return to Palestine and named Zerubbabel, grandson of Judea’s last king, governor of Jerusalem. He assigned a military guard to escort Zerubbabel to his capital. The returning exiles carried with them the plundered vessels of the Temple and funds for its reconstruction. Both were gifts of the emperor.

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