In remarks at the Oval Office on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared President Donald Trump to a famous ruler from the Bible, the Achaemenid Persian King Cyrus the Great.
“I want to tell you that the Jewish people have a long memory. So we remember the proclamation of the great King Cyrus the Great — Persian King,” Netanyahu said. ” Twenty-five hundred years ago, he proclaimed that the Jewish exiles in Babylon can come back and rebuild our temple in Jerusalem.”
The Israeli prime minister mentioned other leaders who proved essential for Israel. “We remember, 100 years ago, Lord Balfour, who issued the Balfour Proclamation that recognized the rights of the Jewish people in our ancestral homeland,” he said. “We remember seventy years ago, President Harry S. Truman was the first leader to recognize the Jewish state. And we remember how a few weeks ago, President Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
“Mr. President, this will be remembered by our people throughout the ages. And as you just said, others talked about it. You did it. So I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Israel,” Netanyahu said.
Indeed, last year President Trump became the first U.S. leader to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, following through on a law originally passed in 1995, which stipulated that the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to King David’s capital city. Trump cast serious shade, noting that former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama refused to fulfill their promises to recognize Jerusalem.
King Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., and as Netanyahu reported, he ended the Babylonian Captivity, sending many of the Jews exiled from Judah under Nebuchadnezzar II back to the land of Israel. Cyrus even paid to rebuild the Jewish Temple, and he has been remembered as the first emperor to allow religious freedom for his subjects.
Isaiah 45:1 describes Cyrus as “the Lord’s anointed,” and many other Old Testament books refer to him positively.
Netanyahu’s comparison between Trump and Cyrus echoed a recently-minted coin issued by the Mikdash Educational Center in Israel. The “Temple Coin” presents Trump alongside King Cyrus. Rabbi Mordechai Persoff compared the two rulers, saying that both made a “big declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of the holy people.”
The center minted 1,000 biblical half-shekel coins to be purchased with a minimum donation of $50. The donations will “help spread the light of Jerusalem and the spirit of the Holy Temple throughout the world,” the organization claimed.
The coin will likely rile Iranians, who consider Israel’s existence an affront and yet honor Cyrus as a great Persian king.
Even so, the connection between Trump and Cyrus echoes a long-time evangelical argument for Trump in the 2016 election. Before and after Trump took the Republican nomination, evangelicals wrestled with supporting him. The real estate tycoon has a checkered moral past — from bragging about sleeping with other man’s wives to cheating on his first wife with his second wife — and has said he never asked God for forgiveness. Many Christians spoke out against Trump, even before the Access Hollywood tapes, and Trump himself went after the evangelical standing of Russell Moore.
Meny evangelicals frankly admitted Trump wasn’t one of them, but supported him anyway. “Is Donald J. Trump God’s instrument for delivering America from the false religion of Secularism?” evangelical organizer David Lane told PJ Media.
“How shocking is it to believe that the vehicle God would use to restore America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and reestablish a Biblically-based culture would be a pagan who does not know the Lord God Jehovah?” Lane asked. Then he suggested that God has done this before.
First, Lane compared Trump to the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II, who destroyed the Jewish temple but then took Jewish advisors (including the prophet Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) who helped him govern justly. Many evangelicals have compared these Jewish advisors to Vice President Mike Pence and the Christians Trump has in the White House.
“If Trump is not a Nebuchadnezzar then I’m praying that he is a Cyrus,” Lane said, noting that there is “no evidence that Cyrus ever surrendered himself to the Living God.” Even so, God used Cyrus to restore the Jews to Israel and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
Lance Wallnau, a business consultant with a doctorate in ministry, said “the Lord spoke” to him with a message about Trump. “Donald Trump is a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness,” God reportedly told Wallnau. He later saw an image of Trump as the 45th president and heard God speaking, “Read Isaiah 45.”
To Wallnau, Trump’s flaws only confirmed the prophecy, as Cyrus was powerful, rich, pagan, and not godly. His book, God’s Chaos Candidate: Donald J. Trump and the American Unraveling, was number 19 on the Amazon bestseller list shortly before the election, in which Trump took 81 percent of the self-described evangelical vote.
Wallnau’s prophecy may have been rather self-fulfilling. Many evangelical leaders backed Trump, and Trump favored the input of conservative Christians, who pushed for the Jerusalem move. Now the prophecy seems complete, as Netanyahu compares Trump to Cyrus at the White House and an Israeli organization prints coins with Trump and Cyrus on them.
Even so, only God Himself can say for certain if Trump will be the modern world’s Cyrus. After all, Cyrus established an immense empire and a long dynasty, shaping history for centuries — and remembered even into 2018. Trump would have to make America very great indeed for this comparison to hold up after another six years.
Watch Netanyahu’s remarks below.