Book of Ezra – Rebuilding the Temple

English: The Jews Return to Jerusalem in the T...

English: The Jews Return to Jerusalem in the Time of Cyrus; as in Ezra 1:1-11; illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Book of Ezra is one of the books of the Old Testament that is generally classified as one of the books of history. The book is only 10 chapters long; and the first 6 chapters are written about events that occurred before Ezra came on the scene, beginning in 539 B.C. (Ezra did not arrive until 458 B.C.). Although Ezra 7:27 – 9:15 is written in the first person, indicating that Ezra wrote them, the first six chapters (as well as chapter 10) are written in the third person, leaving open the possibility of a different author for those chapters.

Ezra 7:27 – 9:15 is often called the Ezra Memoir. It hardly matters, but the reader should keep in mind the possibility that Ezra wrote that portion in that voice to differentiate the time periods, pointing out that the first six chapters predated him. Chapter 10 is largely a historical record. It documented those who had “broken faith,” taking foreign wives and having children with them. It is thought by some that the author of Ezra wrote the book of Nehemiah. Early rabbinical writings indicate that the two books were counted together as one book. Ezra’s arrival in 458 B.C., over 80 years after the book began, preceded the arrival of Nehemiah (445 B.C.) by 13 years.

English: Ezra Reads the Law to the People (Neh...

English: Ezra Reads the Law to the People (Neh. 8:1-12) Русский: Священник Ездра читает народу Закон (Неем. 8:1-12) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the first verse of the book tells us, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled,” the book begins with the time of captivity coming to an end. Ezra begins the story of the small remnant of Jews that returned to their ravaged land, including the building and dedication of the second temple . Ezra 2:64, following a more detailed account, tells us that their number “together was 42,360, 65 besides their male and female servants, of whom there were 7,337, and they had 200 male and female singers. Their horses were 736, their mules were 245, their camels were 435, and their donkeys were 6,720.” The book tells of the remnant’s struggle to regain and retain their identity as a chosen people.

For more information on the Proclamation of Cyrus and a link to the archaeological artifact known as the Cyrus Cylinder, which was found in the ruins of Babylon in 1879, see this previous post.

Key Events

  • Cyrus king of Persia captures Babylon     (539 B.C.)     Dan. 5:30–31
  • King Cyrus issues a decree freeing Jewish exiles to return     (538–537 B.C.)     Ezra 1–2
    • The remnant of Jewish exiles, led by Sheshbazzar, return  Jerusalem     (~537 B.C.)     Ezra 1:11
  • The rebuilding of the altar     (537 B.C.)      Ezra 3:1–2
  • The remnant rebuilds the Temple at its original location      (536 B.C. – 516 B. C.)     Ezra 3:8–6:22
    • Opposition and conspiracies against rebuilding / rebuilding ceases      (530-5B.C.)      Ezra 4:24
    • Rebuilding resumes (2nd year of the reign of Darius)     (520 B.C.)     Ezra 5:2; Hag. 1:14
    • Construction completed      (516 B.C.)       Ezra 6:15
  • Ezra the Priest leaves Babylon and comes to Jerusalem to teach the people and establish Mosaic Law (arrives in the 7th year of the reign of Artaxerxes)    (Ezra 7–8)
    • King Artaxerxes gives Ezra the authority to establish the law of Moses     Ezra 7
    • Ezra sets out for Jerusalem with more remnants, bringing royal gifts for the temple      Ezra 8
  • Ezra confronts the issue of Intermarriage / marriage to idolaters      Ezra 9–10
    • The people agree to dissolve the marriages      Ezra 10:1–17
    • Assembly of men from Judah and Benjamin in Jerusalem      (458 B.C.)      Ezra 10:9
    • Investigation  lasts 3 months   (458–457 B.C.)     Ezra 10:16–17
    • The guilty are documented      Ezra 10:18–44
/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Ezra 6 – The Decree of Darius

Chapters 4 and 5 refer to both the building of the Temple and the construction of the wall; and discuss the opposition that the Jews ran into – despite Cyrus’s decree.  The reign of Cyrus ended upon his death in 530 BC, and the construction of the Temple was halted due to that opposition for more than 15 years.  In chapter 6, by the time that Darius became king, the record of the decree of Cyrus was in question as to whether it had actually taken place.  So Darius made a decree that it would be searched for.  Verses 3-12 detail the additional orders that Darius decreed concerning the construction, once the record of the decree of Cyrus was found.

English: Tomb of Cyrus the Great

English: Tomb of Cyrus the Great (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verses 13-22 mark the completion of the Temple (as verse 15 notes that it was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius, that would be about 515 BC).  Then the text describes its dedication and the celebration of Passover.   Verse 14 emphasizes that completion of the Temple was really influenced by the will of God, speaking through His prophets Haggai (Haggai 1:1-11) and Zechariah (Zechariah 1:7-17).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ezra 3 – Rebuilding the Temple

In verse 1, by Israel’s calendar, the seventh month was Tishri (about September).  It was the month of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26–32), and then came the Feast of Booths (Leviticus 23:33–43), celebrating the exodus.  It was important to build the altar first, as it was the first thing done when the people first entered the land after the exodus (Deuteronomy 27:1-8); and it was built at the site of the old altar (verse 3), and they began sacrificing at once.  In verse 7, they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and to the Sidonians and the Tyrians for the cedars of Lebanon to be brought.

Day of Atonement

Day of Atonement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Temple project began in the  second year (about 537 BC). The second month, in verse 8, was Ziv (1 Kings 6:1) and is in the spring.  It was the same time of year that Solomon began construction of the original temple (2 Chronicles 3:2).  In verses 10-11, the people shouted with joy at the laying of the foundation.  But in verses 12-13, some of the very old remembered the first temple, and they did not believe that the new one would be as awesome and beautiful as the first (see Haggai 2:2-9).  So the sounds of weeping and joy could not be distinguished from each other.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Ezra 1 – The Proclamation of Cyrus

Cyrus Cylinder. Terracotta, Babylonian, ca. 53...

Cyrus Cylinder. Terracotta, Babylonian, ca. 539-530 BC. From Babylon, southern Iraq. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ezra begins in 539 BC with the proclamation of Cyrus.  This was prophesied hundreds of years before he was even born – in Isaiah 44:28-45:1.  Verse 1 says that “the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia,” affirming that the proclamation was the Lord’s doing.  The reference to the words of Jeremiah is about Jeremiah 25:11-14 and 32:36-38, wherein the prophet predicts the exile to Babylon as well as their return.  The leaders of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, along with the priests and Levites, gather money and material for the temple – as Cyrus decreed it to be rebuilt.  Cyrus also brings the treasures that were taken from the temple in 586 b.c. for them to take back to Jerusalem (verses 7-11).

Side note: The Cyrus Cylinder was discovered in 1879 by Hormuzd Rassam.  Cyrus conquered the Babylonians and captured Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king.  He details the restoration of exiles and the return of temple “gods” to their sanctuaries.  There is a great story about this cylinder in this article from BibleArchaeology.org.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Exile Ends \ Week 27 summary posted

This week, we move to the end of Babylonian captivity, as Cyrus of Persia sends people home after conquering the empire  So, God’s people go home.  But home to what?  The Temple was destroyed, as was the wall that protected the city from invaders.  What will become of God’s people?  Let’s find out this week, starting with Ezra.

Perspective on the captivity…
Destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian ...

Destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian rule. Illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The warnings from God concerning their idolatry began much earlier than the Books of Kings.  God gives clear warning that it would happen in Leviticus 26:33-39, and again in Deuteronomy 4:27.  Despite his own guilt in idolatry, Solomon knew of it for certain, as the Lord told him after he built the Temple in 1 Kings 9:1-7.  In his prayer of dedication in the previous chapter (specifically 1 Kings 8:46-50), Solomon had asked that if they are carried away captive and repent, that God will hear their plea, and “maintain their cause.”  As for how God will maintain their cause, we read some last week – the promise of the Messiah.  This week, we will see what is in their immediate future.

Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 27 (July Week 1) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about 2 Kings 23, 24, 25, and Daniel 1 and 2, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.