The beginning chapters of the book of Ezra show the start of the Persian empire. The Persians founded the largest empire that ever existed in that part of the world. The establishment of the Persian empire was almost entirely the work of one man named Cyrus. When he finally moved against Babylon, many of the Babylonians could see the inevitable end and surrendered without opposition. Darius the Mede captured Babylon while Cyrus handled the affairs elsewhere in the empire. Darius the Mede was in charge of this new territory, controlling it as a king but he was still under Cyrus’ authority.
The period of the Jew’s Babylonian Captivity ends with Cyrus. From this point on, whoever desired to return was allowed to; Ezra opens with the story of this return. It is thought that Ezra helped to rebuild the temple, however, the temple was finished before he arrived. The reason Ezra came was to show them what to do with it.
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The First Return under Zerubbabel
History of opposition by the Samaritans from Cyrus’ reign until the reign of Artaxerxes – Commentary