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539 BCE - Cyrus the Great enters Babylon after conquest

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A clay cylinder covered in Akkadian cuneiform script, damaged and broken, the Cyrus Cylinder is a powerful symbol of religious tolerance and multi-culturalism. In this enthralling talk Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, traces 2600 years of Middle Eastern history through this single object.

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Here is a copy of a 2006 translation of the Cyrus Cylinder - Looks like Cyrus wasn't fussy who he worshipped

The following translation (by Michalowski) is given by Chavalas (ed.) 2006, and reproduced by permission of the author and publisher. A slightly different English translation was published previously by Pritchard, and repeated by Ghias Abadi on pp. 35-36 with Farsi on pp. 15-22, French on pp. 33-34 and German (after Berger) on pp. 30-31.
[When ...] his ... [...] the regions ..., an insignificant (candidate) was installed as high priestess (of the Moon) in his land, and [...] he imposed upon them. He made a replica of the Esaggil, [... established] improper rites for Ur and the remaining cult centres as well as [unclean offer]ings; daily he continuously uttered unfaithful (prayers); furthermore he maliciously suspended the regular offerings and upset the rites. He plotted to end the worship of Marduk and continuously perpetuated evil against his city. Daily [he ...] brought all his [people] to ruin by (imposing) toils without rest.
Hearing their complaints, the Enlil of the Gods was terribly angry [and left] their territory; the gods living amongst them abandoned their abodes. (Nabonidus) brought them into Babylon, to (Marduk’s) fury. Marduk, ex[alted one, the Enlil of the God]s, roamed through all the places that had been abandoned, (and upon seeing this) reconciled his anger and showed mercy to the people of Sumer and Akkad who had become (as) corpses.
He sought and looked through all the lands, searching for a righteous king whose hand he could grasp. He called to rule Cyrus, king of Anshan, and announced his name as the king of the universe. He made the Guti-land and all the Medes (Ummanmanda) bow in submission at his feet and so (Cyrus) assiduously looked after the justice and well-being of the Black-Headed People over whom he had been made victorious (by Marduk). And Marduk, the great lord, leader of his people, looked happily at the good deeds and steadfast mind of Cyrus and ordered him to march to his own city Babylon, set him on the road to Babylon, and went alongside him like a friend and companion. His teeming army, uncounted like water (flowing) in a river, marched with him fully armed. (Marduk) allowed him to enter Babylon without battle or fight, sparing his own city of Babylon from hardship, and delivered Nabonidus, who had not worshipped him, into his hands.
All the people of Babylon, the entire land of Sumer and Akkad, rulers and princes, bowed down to him, kissed his feet, and rejoiced at his rule, filled with delight. They happily greeted him as the lord, by means of whose trust those who were as dead were revived and saved from all trial and hardship; they praised his name.
I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the lands of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the universe, son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, great king, king of Anshan, from an ancient royal lineage, whose reign is beloved by (the gods) Marduk and Nabu, whose kingship they desired to make them glad.
After entering Babylon in peace, amidst joy and jubilation I made the royal palace the centre of my rule. The great lord Marduk, who loves Babylon, with great magnanimity, established (it) as (my) destiny, and I sought to worship him each day. My teeming army paraded about Babylon in peace, and I did not allow any trouble in all of Sumer and Akkad. I took great care to peacefully (protect) the city of Babylon and its cult places. (And) as for the citizens of Babylon … whom (Nabonidus) had made subservient in a manner (totally) unsuited to them against the will of the gods, I released them from their weariness and loosened their burden. The great lord Marduk rejoiced in my deeds. Kindly he blessed me, Cyrus, the king, his worshipper, Cambyses, the offspring of my loins, and all of my troops, so that we could go about in peace and well-being.
By his lofty command, all enthroned kings, the whole world, from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea, inhabitants of distant regions, all the kings of the West, tent dwellers, brought their heavy tribute to me in Babylon and kissed my feet. From [Babylon] to Ashur and Susa, Agade, Eshnunna, the cities of Zamban, Meturnu, Der as far as the borders of the Gutians – I returned to these sanctuaries on the other side of the Tigris, sanctuaries founded in ancient times, the images that had been in them there and I made their dwellings permanent. I also gathered all their people and returned to them their habitations. And then at the command of Marduk, the great lord, I resettled all the gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus had brought into Babylon to the anger of the lord of the gods in their shrines, the places which they enjoy. May all the gods whom I have resettled in their sacred cities ask Marduk and Nabu each day for a long life for me and speak well of me to him; may they say to Marduk, my lord that Cyrus, the king who worships you, and Canbyses, his son … their … I settled all the people of Babylon who prayed for my kingship and all their lands in a peaceful place. Daily I supplied (the temple) [with offerings of x gee]se, two ducks, and ten turtledoves above the former (offerings) of geese, ducks, and turtledoves. The wall Imgur-Enlil, the great (city) wall of Babylon, I strove to strengthen its fortifications […] the baked brick quay on the bank of the city moat, constructed by an earlier king, but not completed, its work [I … thus the city had not been completely surrounded], so [to complete] the outside, which no king before me had done, its troops, mustered in all the land, into Babylon […]. I made it anew with bitumen and baked bricks and [finished the work upon it … I istalled doors of] mighty [cedar] clad with bronze, thresholds and door-opening[s cast of copper in all] its [gates … I saw inside it an in]scription of Ashurbanipal, a king who came before [me … for e]ver.

Translation by Piotr Michalowski, published on pp. 428-29 in 'Historical Sources in Translation: The Ancient Near East', ed. Mark Chavalas (Blackwell, 2006), reproduced with the permission of the authors and publisher.

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As the book comments, this text was produced to legitimize Cyrus' right to conquer and rule Babylonia. 

It's interesting how, because Nabonidus had disrespected Babylon's patron deity (Marduk) by elevating other gods instead and making other religious reforms, Cyrus is said to have been specially chosen and guided by Marduk to take Babylon and depose unfaithful Nabonidus.

It's a familiar theme. Because Judean kings had dishonored and disobeyed YHWH, Nebuchadnezzar was divinely chosen to take Jerusalem and depose those unfaithful kings.

Also compare:

Cylinder

"[Marduk] sought and looked through all the lands, searching for a righteous king whose hand he could grasp. ...

"... And Marduk, the great lord, leader of his people, looked happily at the good deeds and steadfast mind of Cyrus and ordered him to march to his own city Babylon, set him on the road to Babylon, and went alongside him like a friend and companion. His teeming army, uncounted like water (flowing) in a river, marched with him fully armed. (Marduk) allowed him to enter Babylon without battle or fight, sparing his own city of Babylon from hardship, and delivered Nabonidus, who had not worshipped him, into his hands."

Isaiah 44:28

"The One saying of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, And he will completely carry out all my will’"

Isaiah 45:1

"This is what Jehovah says to his anointed one, to Cyrus, Whose right hand I have taken hold of To subdue nations before him, To disarm kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut"

It's fascinating that both Marduk and YHWH claim Cyrus as their chosen agent against Babylon and its king.
 

EDIT: I've just watched the TED video and MacGregor mentions the same thing (but he expresses it better). It was an enlightening watch. Thanks Librarian:)

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  • Similar Content

    • By Jack Ryan
      Watchtower has referred to Ptolemy's Canon as corroborating the accepted 539 BCE date, iirc, but otherwise pooh-pooh it as being unreliable.
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