1. Exposition

For what purpose had Cyrus used the vessels from the temple?

Ezra 1:7 (ESV)

7 Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the LORD that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods.

It was a common practice in the ancient Near East that when you defeated an enemy in battle, you took items from their temple back with you to your own capital city.1 Normally people would take idols and statutes of the pagan gods of their enemies. The idea was that your god (e.g., Marduk of Babylon) had defeated their god, and this was visibly shown by having your enemy’s god in your own temple. Since the people of Israel did not have any images, when they were defeated in battle by their enemies (e.g., Babylon, the Philistines), their enemies took the temple vessels (2 Kings 24:13; 2 Kings 25:13–17) or the ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 5:1–12). It appears as though the Babylonians were very careful to keep a record of everything they took from the temple in Jerusalem, since there was an inventory list.