The Cyrus Cylinder
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of YHWH by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, YHWH stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
"Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath YHWH, the God of heaven, given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of YHWH, the God of Israel (he is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever is left, in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, besides the freewill-offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem" (Ezra 1:1-4).
Many of the members of the Venice church of Christ enjoyed the opportunity today to see the Cyrus Cylinder at The Getty Villa, on loan from the British Museum. The Cyrus Cylinder, discovered in the foundation of the city wall of Babylon, records a description of Cyrus' accession to the throne of Babylon, how Marduk the god of Babylon caused him to prosper, and most importantly, how Cyrus allowed all the various nations to return to their homes, serve their own gods, asking for every nation to ask their god to bless Cyrus and his kingdom.
Therefore, while the Cyrus Cylinder does not have any direct quotations from the Bible, it demonstrates that the decree preserved in 2 Chronicles 36 and Ezra 1 is consistent with contemporary chronicles and events and can be trusted as a reliable witness.