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The City of Ecbatana in the Persian Empire
Ecbatana became the capital city of the Medes in the late seventh century B.C. Ecbatana is actually the Greek name of the city mentioned in the book of Ezra "Achmetha" (Ezra 6:2). It was located around 180 miles southwest of Tehran, the capital of modern Iran. It was in the Zagros Mountains, about 6000 feet above sea level, on a caravan route that ran for Mesopotamia to the Persian plateau. Cyrus the Great, the Persian ruler, enjoyed the weather here during summer months, and he made it his summer capital.
Apparently Cyrus the Great issued his famous decree from Ecbatana, which would allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. This is the place where the Bible says king Darius found the scroll:
1 Then King Darius issued a decree, and a search was made in the archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon.
2 And at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of Media, a scroll was found, and in it a record was written thus:
3 In the first year of King Cyrus, King Cyrus issued a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem: "Let the house be rebuilt, the place where they offered sacrifices; and let the foundations of it be firmly laid, its height sixty cubits and its width sixty cubits,
4 with three rows of heavy stones and one row of new timber. Let the expenses be paid from the king's treasury.
5 Also let the gold and silver articles of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took from the temple which is in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon, be restored and taken back to the temple which is in Jerusalem, each to its place; and deposit them in the house of God"
It is believed by many that the tombs of Mordecai and Esther were located in this city.
Map of the Deportation of Judah
2 Kings 24:20 "For because of the anger of the LORD this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, that He finally cast them out from His presence"
In the Book of II Kings we read of the deportation of the Jews from their land to the land of Babylon, and then the Book ends 37 years later with the account of Jehoiachin who was blinded and in captivity in Babylon. After 30 years of imprisonment, Evil-merodach ascended the throne of Babylon and at the beginning of his rule he chose to honor the Judean prisoner Jehoiachin. The Jewish king was given appropriate garments and an income and made a member of the court of Babylon, with other deposed kings. This was no doubt a comforting sign to the Jewish captives who were still in the "land of bondage."
In all actuality it was the Lord who had given favor to Jehoiachin, and it was the Lord that had allowed the promised Seed (Messiah) to pass through the loins of Jehoiachin as Matthew states:
11 Josiah begot Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel.
13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor.
14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud.
15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.
16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
God was faithful to His promises that they would remain in the land of Babylon for seventy years, and the "Son of David" would still come to bring salvation to the world.
Even in bitter captivity there was hope for God’s people, the promises were being fulfilled and the Scriptures continued to be written:
1 By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion.
2 We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it.
3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
4 How shall we sing the LORD's song In a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill!
6 If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth -- If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.