350 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
lished by the Persian king there was little left to engage his energies. On the extreme
south-west the little state of Phoenicia neglected or refused to acknowledge the new order
by sending tokens of submission. It does not appear, however, that the mind of Cyrus was
seriously disturbed by this act, which at the worst could occasion but little trouble. He
had been so long accustomed to combating with enemies of larger growth that he gave little
attention to the hostile attitude assumed by the Phoenicians. It was Egypt, rather then
Phoenicia, to which he looked as the next field worthy of his talents and ambition, and
with a view to aiding his interests and plans in this direction he adopted a measure
which, to say the least, was as much one of statecraft as of religious preference.
This was the restoration to their own country of the captive Jews of Babylon. For seventy
years these exiles had toiled at the public works in and about the great city. In the
latter part of this period the rigor of the Babylonians had relaxed, and the servile race
had found some favor in the eyes of their masters. It will be remembered that the later
Babylonian kings had more than once contemplated restoring the Jews to their own land.
This idea was adopted-though for different reasons- by Cyrus, who perceived that such an
act would assure the establishment of a friendly nation on the immediate borders of Egypt,
and in the direct line of march which he must take in case of an invasion of that country.
All but a few of the generation who seventy years before had come out from Jewry were now
dead, but the enthusiasm and gratitude of their children were easily awaked at the
prospect of a return to the abandoned altars of their fathers; and the edict of
emancipation issued by Cyrus was hailed with delight by the people, who, under the
leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah retuned to Palestine and began the work of rebuilding
Jerusalem. While the invasion of Egypt was still