The Book of Ezra
Ezra or The Book of Ezra is a historical text included in the Hebrew Bible. It originally formed a part of the book known as Ezra-Nehemiah, from where the two texts, i.e. Book of Ezra and Book of Nehemiah were separated during the early period of Christian era. Although classic Jewish tradition holds the opinion that the Book of Ezra was written by a man named Ezra, there is no conclusive evidence to support this. Moreover, similarities in the linguistic styles between the Books of Chronicles and Books of Ezra-Nehemiah led many scholars to believe that the two texts were actually written by the same person. However, many modern researchers do not support this theory, as the two books deal with very different subject matters. Whereas the Book of Chronicles discusses the history of Judah and Israel, the Book of Ezra ignores all history of David’s lineage or the various prophets that tried to bring the people into the righteous path. The earliest version of the book was probably written somewhere around 400 BC, which was then revised and edited numerous times for several centuries until being accepted as a scriptural text during the Christ period.
The entire Book of Ezra is divided into two parts: the first part consists of chapters 1 to 6 and deals with the return of the exiled Jews from Babylon during the supremacy of King Cyrus the Great as well as the decree of the Second Temple of Jerusalem; the second part discusses Ezra’s subsequent mission to deliver Jews from their sin of getting married to non-Jewish people. Whereas the first part of the Book of Ezra is told in third person, the second part is a first person account of the proceedings.
King Cyrus announced a decree to build a new temple for Lord in Jerusalem and appointed Jewish people who could carry out the task. He was keen to return the items that were stolen from Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians. A list is then presented in the second chapter showing the people who returned to the holy kingdom with Zerubbabel. It also offers a genealogy that charts Aaron’s descendants.
The process of rebuilding of the temple starts in the chapter 3 and continues till chapter 6. The construction of the altar and the laying of the temple foundation are discussed in chapter 3. However, the Samaritans tried to oppose the building of the new temple and even wrote letters of false accusations to King Artaxerxes of the possible dangers that could be brought by this temple project.
After a suspension period of 2 years, the temple building work commenced again through the impetus provided by the prophets Zechariah and Haggai. On discovering the decree made by King Cyrus, King Darius instructed Tattenai not to hinder the temple construction, and also supplied additional means required for the project. The finished temple was named as Zerubbabel’s Temple.
King Artaxerxes is called on by God to get in touch with Ezra and assist him in bringing justice to the people of God in the lands of Judah and Jerusalem. Artaxerxes also supports Ezra with plenty of riches in his mission. When Ezra comes to a point near Babylon and sees no Levites, he sends his messengers to get in touch with some. But Ezra’s men inform him that some Jewish men had already committed sin by getting married to non-Jewish women. Ezra prays to the Lord to bring his people back on the path of righteousness and the people thus took a holy stance on the Lord. Get Book of Ezra Bible Quotes delivered daily.