I recently had a chance to view the Cyrus Cylinder as it made a tour through the USA on loan from the British Museum. The Cyrus Cylinder is an amazing piece of archeology, for it not only tells us about some of the history associated with the Persian Empire, but it also validates the historical accuracy of the Bible!
The book of Isaiah was written somewhere between 120-150 years before the fall of the Babylonian Empire to the Medo-Persian Empire for which Cyrus was king. Isaiah records a very specific prophesy regarding Cyrus in Isaiah 44:28:
Who says of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd,
And he shall perform all My pleasure,
Saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,”
And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.” ’
According to this prophecy, Isaiah said Cyrus would be the one to order the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the restoration of the temple there. When Isaiah made this prophecy, the name Cyrus was unknown; nobody by that name existed and the name was not in common usage.
So it was quite a surprise to some that over 120 years later, King Cyrus of the Persians not only released the Jews from their 70 years of captivity, but gave the decree to restore the temple and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. - Ezra 1:1-4
The Cyrus Cylinder describes the effort by Cyrus to repatriate people enslaved by the Babylonians back to their lands of origin, which aligns quite nicely with the Biblical narrative where Cyrus sets the Israelites free to allow them to return to Jerusalem.
Here is the beauty of this. One of the best affirmations that the Bible is of divine origin is prophetic foreknowledge of future events. In a related article, I wrote about the prophecy of Daniel chapters two and five and how the book of Daniel exhibits the hand of God for the knowledge of the future contained in its pages. In the same way, the book of Isaiah and Ezra, along with the Cyrus Cylinder, validate again the finger of God in the Bible, for only God can know the future. Yet Isaiah was amazingly able to identify Cyrus by name as the king who would give the order to restore Jerusalem, which was recorded in Ezra as historical fact and backed up by archeology via the Cyrus Cylinder.
And this is just one of dozens of historical accounts in the Bible which have been validated by archeology.
And the beauty: Nothing at this level of foreknowledge of the future can be found in the Quran! Which book has the evidence of divine inspiration? The evidence speaks for itself.