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  1. #1
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    Which is correct? The Cyrus Cylinder or the Bible?

    I watched a fascinating TED talk today about the 2600 year old Cyrus Cylinder which records the exploits of King Cyrus who in the Bible is credited with allowing the Jews to go back to Jerusalem. Here's the link:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/neil_macgre...ne_object.html

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    And here is a partial transcript from the Cyrus Cylinder provided from the British Museum:

    1. He [Marduk] took the hand of Cyrus, king of the city of Anshan, and called him by his name, proclaiming him aloud for the kingship over all of everything.
    2. He made the land of Guti and all the Median troops prostrate themselves at his feet, while he shepherded in justice and righteousness the black-headed people
    3. whom he had put under his care. Marduk, the great lord, who nurtures his people, saw with pleasure his fine deeds and true heart,
    4. and ordered that he should go to Babylon He had him take the road to Tintir (Babylon), and, like a friend and companion, he walked at his side.
    5. His vast troops whose number, like the water in a river, could not be counted, were marching fully-armed at his side.
    6. He had him enter without fighting or battle right into Shuanna; he saved his city Babylon from hardship. He handed over to him Nabonidus, the king who did not fear him.
    7. All the people of Tintir, of all Sumer and Akkad, nobles and governors, bowed down before him and kissed his feet, rejoicing over his kingship and their faces shone.
    8. The lord through whose help all were rescued from death and who saved them all from distress and hardship, they blessed him sweetly and praised his name.
    9. I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world,
    10. son of Cambyses, the great king, king of the city of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, the great king, ki[ng of the ci]ty of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, the great king, king of the city of Anshan,
    11. the perpetual seed of kingship, whose reign Bel (Marduk)and Nabu love, and with whose kingship, to their joy, they concern themselves. When I went as harbinger of peace i[nt]o Babylon
    12. I founded my sovereign residence within the palace amid celebration and rejoicing. Marduk, the great lord, bestowed on me as my destiny the great magnanimity of one who loves Babylon, and I every day sought him out in awe.
    13. My vast troops were marching peaceably in Babylon, and the whole of [Sumer] and Akkad had nothing to fear.

    This presents a problem with the Biblical account which is very similar, but also very different:
    Isaiah 44:28 [Thus saith the LORD] That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. 45:1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; 2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: 3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
    The account on the Cyrus Cylinder - presumable dictated by Cyrus himself - says that it was MARDUK who called Cyrus "by name" and "held his hand" and made him a "shepherd" of many peoples. The Bible says the same thing, except it replaces the name of Marduk with Yahweh.

    So which is right? It seems to me that the authors of the Bible rewrote history to include Yahweh when Cyrus was actually attributing his success to Marduk.
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  2. #2
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    Thank you Richard, this is an interesting talk.

    Of course in answer your question I have to say the Bible is correct and that this only goes to show that Nebuchadnezzar's Dream which Daniel gave the interpretation of came true and the Medes and the Persians overthrew Babylon and became the next world empire. It is not surprising for Marduk the god of Persia to be given the credit. Isaiah for the Jews is setting the record straight that is was God who was behind Cyrus using him to bring about His purpose.

    This is one of the problems we have and where we have to look beneath the surface. In Nebuchanezzar's Dream God was declaring what would come long before it happened.

    It is not surprising that the world with lots of different nations, having their own gods and are putting their own self-interest first. They look to their own resources and their gods instead of acknowledging the one true God. It is no different today, countries put their own interests first. God is working behind the scenes to bring about His purpose and it is not surprising that the nations and peoples do not recognize what is happening because they give themselves all the credit for their success. They are blind to God controlling the nations and proving that He is by what is taking place. It does not matter to God if the majority do not believe in Him, this is what he has told us would be the case. As Jesus said; "Let the dead bury the dead". The dead being those who reject God.

    God is saving a people (those who believe) unto himself out of all generations, these will be the people to occupy the kingdom that will be established at the return of Jesus.

    Good a Cyrus appears to be, Cyrus in the right place at the right time, because God made sure of it. God was using Cyrus to bring about the restoration of the Jews. History would have been a lot different had Cyrus not been there to let the Jews return.

    The exile of the Jews into Babylon was their first exile. This is part of the wider prophecy in which there are three overturnings of Jerusalem. Alas this is not something many will appreciate.Ezekial 21:27 I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him. and this is speaking of the time Jesus will come back to set up his throne in Jerusalem.

    What takes place in the Middle East is very important. God has fulfilled another prophecy in dispersing the Jews throughout the earth and gathering them back into their own land and forming a nation once more. The survival of the Jews is a miracle that goes unappreciated. When the great nations that have been, how is it that this small nation of Israel has survived. Despite all the persecution of the Jews they have survived. Why?

    Jer 30:11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee:
    Ezekial 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

    The chapters from which the above verses have been taken need to be read and taken into context, but long before the nation of Israel was established in 1948 there were many who anticipated the reformation of the nation because of Bible prophecy. This is why it is important to look to the Middle East and what is happening around Jerusalem and it will not be surprising (to me) to see Jerusalem overthrown for the third time. All nations will be gathered around Israel, the Jews will be put in the position where there will be no way out for them. It is at this time they will call on God to save them and that is when Jesus will be back on the earth. The Jews will come to recognize Jesus as the Son of God whom they crucified 2000 years ago. The veil will finally have been lifted from their eyes.
    2 Cor 3:15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

    Thanks again Richard


    David

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    So which is right? It seems to me that the authors of the Bible rewrote history to include Yahweh when Cyrus was actually attributing his success to Marduk.
    Hi Richard,

    Now that's a very interesting find.
    Beck

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by David M View Post
    Thank you Richard, this is an interesting talk.

    Of course in answer your question I have to say the Bible is correct and that this only goes to show that Nebuchadnezzar's Dream which Daniel gave the interpretation of came true and the Medes and the Persians overthrew Babylon and became the next world empire. It is not surprising for Marduk the god of Persia to be given the credit. Isaiah for the Jews is setting the record straight that is was God who was behind Cyrus using him to bring about His purpose.
    Hi David,

    Thanks for your input. I think the cylinder is really cool because it shows that some of the Biblical stories are set in real history. This is in stark contrast with books like the book of Mormon which makes all sorts of absurd claims about whole cities, peoples, and places in the Americas for which there is no historical evidence whatsoever.

    But the fact that some Bible stories are set in real history does not tell us anything about the validity of details of the stories. That's the problem I have with the story of Cyrus. Your explanation that Isaiah was "setting the record straight" could be true, but it doesn't solve the problem that the historical record of Ezra contradicts Cyrus' own words. Ezra says that Cyrus attributed his success to Yahweh, but Cyrus himself says it was Marduk. Now I suppose it is possible that Cyrus could have chosen to use the name of the Jew's God when addressing them, and the name of Marduk when commissioning his cylinder to be made, but that seems like an ad hoc argument invented for one purpose - to save the Bible from being contradicted by history.

    Can you think of any reason a person without a prior commitment to biblical inerrancy would believe that Cyrus attributed his success to Yahweh?

    The problem is that it looks like one of theses documents copied from the other. They contain too many elements in common. They both say that a God (Yahweh/Marduk) called Cyrus by name, held his hand, made him to be a shepherd and a great king. Furthermore, we know that Ezra was written after the fact since it is an historical account of the return after Babylon. So now we are confronted with choice. Which is more likely - that Isaiah predicted Cyrus by name or that Isaiah was written after the fact like the account in Ezra? The answer seems very clear to me since it's a lot easier to make up something after the fact than to predict the future. Case in point: Daniel's history is very tight right up to around 167 BC when Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple. Then it goes completely haywire and makes no historical sense at all. Thus, scholars conclude it was written shortly after 167 BC. And their conclusion is supported by other arguments based on linguistics and other details. Similar reasoning has led to the scholastic consensus that Deutero-Isaiah was written after the return from the Babylonian exile.

    In my own studies, I have found only one prophecy that can be confirmed to have been written before it was fulfilled: the prediction in Daniel 9 that Christ would come and be killed before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. But there is a lot of confusion, ambiguity, and disputation about the meaning of that prophecy (as you well know) so it's power is greatly vitiated.

    And then of course, there are many failed prophecies that can't be ignored. Case in point: Proto-Isaiah (chpt 13) predicted the violent destruction of Babylon, but Deutero-Isaiah (chpt 44-45) said that Cyrus would take it without a battle (which is what actually happened).

    Quote Originally Posted by David M View Post
    The exile of the Jews into Babylon was their first exile. This is part of the wider prophecy in which there are three overturnings of Jerusalem. Alas this is not something many will appreciate.Ezekial 21:27 I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him. and this is speaking of the time Jesus will come back to set up his throne in Jerusalem.
    Fascinating observation. I've never noticed that before. I would take it as a nice "confirmation" if I were a Futurist. But it is much to weak to use as a foundation for a doctrine like "there will be three overturnings of Jerusalem." I know of only two overturnings, and both were marked by a destruction of the Temple (in 586 BC and 70 AD). To fit the pattern, you would have to assume there will be another legitimate Temple of God built in Jerusalem which then would be overthrown, and that is nowhere predicted in Scripture. Indeed, it is impossible now that the true Temple (Christ) has come.

    Quote Originally Posted by David M View Post
    What takes place in the Middle East is very important. God has fulfilled another prophecy in dispersing the Jews throughout the earth and gathering them back into their own land and forming a nation once more. The survival of the Jews is a miracle that goes unappreciated. When the great nations that have been, how is it that this small nation of Israel has survived. Despite all the persecution of the Jews they have survived. Why?

    Jer 30:11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee:
    Ezekial 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

    The chapters from which the above verses have been taken need to be read and taken into context, but long before the nation of Israel was established in 1948 there were many who anticipated the reformation of the nation because of Bible prophecy. This is why it is important to look to the Middle East and what is happening around Jerusalem and it will not be surprising (to me) to see Jerusalem overthrown for the third time. All nations will be gathered around Israel, the Jews will be put in the position where there will be no way out for them. It is at this time they will call on God to save them and that is when Jesus will be back on the earth. The Jews will come to recognize Jesus as the Son of God whom they crucified 2000 years ago. The veil will finally have been lifted from their eyes.
    2 Cor 3:15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.
    Were not those prophecies speaking of the return from the Babylonian exile? Why do you think they are yet future?

    Quote Originally Posted by David M View Post
    Thanks again Richard

    David
    Great chatting!

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    Hi David,

    Thanks for your input. I think the cylinder is really cool because it shows that some of the Biblical stories are set in real history. This is in stark contrast with books like the book of Mormon which makes all sorts of absurd claims about whole cities, peoples, and places in the Americas for which there is no historical evidence whatsoever.
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    But the fact that some Bible stories are set in real history does not tell us anything about the validity of details of the stories. That's the problem I have with the story of Cyrus. Your explanation that Isaiah was "setting the record straight" could be true, but it doesn't solve the problem that the historical record of Ezra contradicts Cyrus' own words. Ezra says that Cyrus attributed his success to Yahweh, but Cyrus himself says it was Marduk. Now I suppose it is possible that Cyrus could have chosen to use the name of the Jew's God when addressing them, and the name of Marduk when commissioning his cylinder to be made, but that seems like an ad hoc argument invented for one purpose - to save the Bible from being contradicted by history.
    Even if we do not have all the details, surely if the Bible record agrees with secular history, we can agree that the Bible record is true. When you consider how the Eygptians tried to rewrite history and the records and remove their defeats from history, we should not be surprised to find other nations changing events to suit their purpose. I am not put off from accepting the reality of this story and accept that Cyrus could have appeased both the Jews and his own people by referring to the appropriate God where necessary.

    Do we know how quickly a scroll like this took to write? Can it be written at any where near the speed of dictation (even slow dictation)? I am wondering whether Cyrus recounted the story and the scribes wrote the scroll from memory. Maybe the scribes inserted the name of Marduk intentionally either with or without Cyrus's knowledge. I do not use these discrepancies to discredit the Bible, instead I will side with the Bible and not worry too much about what could be considered trivial discrepancies. I allow for later understanding as to how the discrepencies have arose and what the correct answer is.

    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    Can you think of any reason a person without a prior commitment to biblical inerrancy would believe that Cyrus attributed his success to Yahweh?

    The problem is that it looks like one of theses documents copied from the other. They contain too many elements in common. They both say that a God (Yahweh/Marduk) called Cyrus by name, held his hand, made him to be a shepherd and a great king. Furthermore, we know that Ezra was written after the fact since it is an historical account of the return after Babylon. So now we are confronted with choice. Which is more likely - that Isaiah predicted Cyrus by name or that Isaiah was written after the fact like the account in Ezra? The answer seems very clear to me since it's a lot easier to make up something after the fact than to predict the future. Case in point: Daniel's history is very tight right up to around 167 BC when Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple. Then it goes completely haywire and makes no historical sense at all. Thus, scholars conclude it was written shortly after 167 BC. And their conclusion is supported by other arguments based on linguistics and other details. Similar reasoning has led to the scholastic consensus that Deutero-Isaiah was written after the return from the Babylonian exile.
    Maybe this is God's way of setting the record straight. As I see it, God is steering events in order to return His people to their own land having been punished for 70 years. On the understanding that (2 Peter 2:21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. This is God ensuring the truth is written down. Rather than trying to fit the Bible is with secular records, I err on the side of making secular records fit in with God's revelation.


    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    In my own studies, I have found only one prophecy that can be confirmed to have been written before it was fulfilled: the prediction in Daniel 9 that Christ would come and be killed before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. But there is a lot of confusion, ambiguity, and disputation about the meaning of that prophecy (as you well know) so it's power is greatly vitiated.
    Well that is a start Richard if you have found one prophecy to be true, you just need a way of understanding how the other prophecies can be seen to be true. Only God knows the future and as this is the only way God can be proved.

    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    And then of course, there are many failed prophecies that can't be ignored. Case in point: Proto-Isaiah (chpt 13) predicted the violent destruction of Babylon, but Deutero-Isaiah (chpt 44-45) said that Cyrus would take it without a battle (which is what actually happened)
    .
    For the moment to reply quickly I will have to look into what you say and see if what you say is true of whether there is another explanation.


    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    Fascinating observation. I've never noticed that before. I would take it as a nice "confirmation" if I were a Futurist. But it is much to weak to use as a foundation for a doctrine like "there will be three overturnings of Jerusalem." I know of only two overturnings, and both were marked by a destruction of the Temple (in 586 BC and 70 AD). To fit the pattern, you would have to assume there will be another legitimate Temple of God built in Jerusalem which then would be overthrown, and that is nowhere predicted in Scripture. Indeed, it is impossible now that the true Temple (Christ) has come
    The regathering of the Jews is very important and is a fulfillment of prophecy. There will be a third overturning of Jerusalem. Have you seen the videos of David C Pack of the Restored Church of God? While I disagree with him on the nature of Jesus and also the Devil and Satan, I am interested in what he is saying about what will happen. There is an understanding that there is a duality of prophecy. It is understood that there will be another "Abomination of Desolation" set up. I have downloaded all of David C Pack videos and will work my way through them. He gives a good interpretation of Daniels prophecy and he explains the beasts and symbology of Revelation. I have yet to see if he says anything about prophecy of the future I cannot agree with. I am not an expert on future prophecy and am keeping an open mind about some things. Exactly how the future plays out is not essential to salvation; we are not tested on our understanding of prophecy. It is an interesting Bible study which God has revealed but has to be searched out. Practially every generation has expected Jesus to return in their lifetime, however there will be one genereation who are proved correct. In the meantime, we have been warned against the skeptics who say;
    2 Peter 3:4 Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.


    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    Were not those prophecies speaking of the return from the Babylonian exile? Why do you think they are yet future?
    I am keeping an open mind on the duality of prophecy and that some of the prophecies of the past had a more immediate application and also had a future application much later. Daniel 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. As I say, David C Pack gives a reasonable interpretation of Daniel's prophecy.




    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    Great chatting!

    Richard
    Likewise

    David
    Last edited by David M; 02-21-2012 at 04:48 PM.

  6. #6
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    Isaiah 45:4-5 said Cyrus did not know God, thus he mistaken marduk for the true God

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Amiel McGough View Post
    Hi David,

    Thanks for your input. I think the cylinder is really cool because it shows that some of the Biblical stories are set in real history. This is in stark contrast with books like the book of Mormon which makes all sorts of absurd claims about whole cities, peoples, and places in the Americas for which there is no historical evidence whatsoever.

    But the fact that some Bible stories are set in real history does not tell us anything about the validity of details of the stories. That's the problem I have with the story of Cyrus. Your explanation that Isaiah was "setting the record straight" could be true, but it doesn't solve the problem that the historical record of Ezra contradicts Cyrus' own words. Ezra says that Cyrus attributed his success to Yahweh, but Cyrus himself says it was Marduk. Now I suppose it is possible that Cyrus could have chosen to use the name of the Jew's God when addressing them, and the name of Marduk when commissioning his cylinder to be made, but that seems like an ad hoc argument invented for one purpose - to save the Bible from being contradicted by history.

    Can you think of any reason a person without a prior commitment to biblical inerrancy would believe that Cyrus attributed his success to Yahweh?

    The problem is that it looks like one of theses documents copied from the other. They contain too many elements in common. They both say that a God (Yahweh/Marduk) called Cyrus by name, held his hand, made him to be a shepherd and a great king. Furthermore, we know that Ezra was written after the fact since it is an historical account of the return after Babylon. So now we are confronted with choice. Which is more likely - that Isaiah predicted Cyrus by name or that Isaiah was written after the fact like the account in Ezra? The answer seems very clear to me since it's a lot easier to make up something after the fact than to predict the future. Case in point: Daniel's history is very tight right up to around 167 BC when Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple. Then it goes completely haywire and makes no historical sense at all. Thus, scholars conclude it was written shortly after 167 BC. And their conclusion is supported by other arguments based on linguistics and other details. Similar reasoning has led to the scholastic consensus that Deutero-Isaiah was written after the return from the Babylonian exile.

    In my own studies, I have found only one prophecy that can be confirmed to have been written before it was fulfilled: the prediction in Daniel 9 that Christ would come and be killed before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. But there is a lot of confusion, ambiguity, and disputation about the meaning of that prophecy (as you well know) so it's power is greatly vitiated.

    And then of course, there are many failed prophecies that can't be ignored. Case in point: Proto-Isaiah (chpt 13) predicted the violent destruction of Babylon, but Deutero-Isaiah (chpt 44-45) said that Cyrus would take it without a battle (which is what actually happened).


    Fascinating observation. I've never noticed that before. I would take it as a nice "confirmation" if I were a Futurist. But it is much to weak to use as a foundation for a doctrine like "there will be three overturnings of Jerusalem." I know of only two overturnings, and both were marked by a destruction of the Temple (in 586 BC and 70 AD). To fit the pattern, you would have to assume there will be another legitimate Temple of God built in Jerusalem which then would be overthrown, and that is nowhere predicted in Scripture. Indeed, it is impossible now that the true Temple (Christ) has come.


    Were not those prophecies speaking of the return from the Babylonian exile? Why do you think they are yet future?


    Great chatting!

    Richard

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