When you read the beginning of Ezra, you might discover two different perceptions about The Almighty. Cyrus, the Persian king, who just conquered the Babylonian Empire, woke up with the help of G-d, probably at night as written:
” וּבִשְׁנַת אַחַת, לְכוֹרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ פָּרַס, לִכְלוֹת דְּבַר-יְהוָה, מִפִּי יִרְמְיָה: הֵעִיר יְהוָה, אֶת-רוּחַ כֹּרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ-פָּרַס, וַיַּעֲבֶר-קוֹל בְּכָל-מַלְכוּתוֹ, וְגַם-בְּמִכְתָּב לֵאמֹר. כֹּה אָמַר, כֹּרֶשׁ מֶלֶךְ פָּרַס–כֹּל מַמְלְכוֹת הָאָרֶץ, נָתַן לִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם; וְהוּא-פָקַד עָלַי לִבְנוֹת-לוֹ בַיִת, בִּירוּשָׁלִַם אֲשֶׁר בִּיהוּדָה.”
“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.”(Ezra 1:1-2)
From these verses we can learn that G-d can be in Persia in order to speak with Cyrus, who said that G-d has given him all the kingdoms of earth- this is a description of a universal G-d, who is everywhere and controls history!
However, if we read the next two verses, there is another description of G-d here:
” מִי-בָכֶם מִכָּל-עַמּוֹ, יְהִי אֱלֹהָיו עִמּוֹ, וְיַעַל, לִירוּשָׁלִַם אֲשֶׁר בִּיהוּדָה; וְיִבֶן, אֶת-בֵּית יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל–הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים, אֲשֶׁר בִּירוּשָׁלִָם. וְכָל-הַנִּשְׁאָר, מִכָּל-הַמְּקֹמוֹת אֲשֶׁר הוּא גָר-שָׁם–יְנַשְּׂאוּהוּ אַנְשֵׁי מְקֹמוֹ, בְּכֶסֶף וּבְזָהָב וּבִרְכוּשׁ וּבִבְהֵמָה; עִם-הַנְּדָבָה–לְבֵית הָאֱלֹהִים, אֲשֶׁר בִּירוּשָׁלִָם”
” Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’(Ezra 1:3-4)
G-d here is the one we find in Jerusalem, G-d of Israel, G-d whose house is the second Temple that will be built in 516-518 B.C.E, after this declaration of Cyrus in 538 B.C.E- this is a local G-d!
Why did the author give us two descriptions of G-d? Share your thoughts with us here or on our Facebook fan page, have a blessed week, Eli
הַשָּׁמָיִם-haššāmāyim- The heavens
הוּא- hû’-He (m.s.)