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.  

2 Chronicles – The Events of the Days

The Book of 2 Chronicles starts out in verse 1 saying “Solomon the son of David established himself in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.” It ends in chapter 36 with the proclamation of Cyrus, inviting the exiles to return to Judea and rebuild. This spans a time period of about 430 years. The capstone chapter is chapter 34, which begins the reign of King Josiah and his dramatic reforms and restoration.

During the eighteenth year of King Josiah's reign, he held a great Passover festival to celebrate the restored Temple 2 Chronicles 35:1-27)

During the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, he held a great Passover festival to celebrate the restored Temple 2 Chronicles 35:1-27)

As the temple was being repaired, the priest Hilkiah found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. Then Shaphan the scribe read it to Josiah. When the great king realized the extent of the utter failure of his people in serving the Lord, he became extremely upset (2 Chronicles 34:19-24). At his bidding, Hilkiah went to Huldah the prophetess, who issued the news of the dire fate that awaited the people. Thus began a period of great change that put off the wrath of the Lord until Josiah’s death in 2 Chronicles 35. But the evil returned under the reign of his son, Jehoiakim (2 Chronicles 36:1-5).

Key events of 2 Chronicles

Solomon’s wisdom and prosperity  (2 Chronicles  1)
The building of the Temple (2 Chronicles 3–5:1)
Ark transported to the Temple (2 Chronicles 5:2–12)
God’s glory fills the temple (2 Chronicles 5:13–14)
Solomon blesses the people and consecrates the temple (2 Chronicles 6)
Fire from the Lord consumes the sacrifices (2 Chronicles 7:1–7)
Feast of Tabernacles and covenant confirmation (2 Chronicles 7:8–22)
Queen of Sheba visits (2 Chronicles 9:1–12)
Death of Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:29–31)

Division of the kingdom (2 Chronicles 10:1–11:23)
Reign of Rehoboam (Judah) (2 Chronicles 12:13–16)
War between Judah and Israel (2 Chronicles 13:1–22)
Asa’s reforms (2 Chronicles 15:8–19)
Asa defeats Syria (2 Chronicles 16:1–10)
Expansion of Judah (2 Chronicles 17:10–19)
Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahab and the death of Ahab (2 Chronicles 18:1–34)
Jehoshaphat’s reforms and his reign (2 Chronicles 19:1–20:37)

/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.