Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ezra

Ezra was a priest who lived in the 5th Century B.C. Tradition recognizes him as the author of First and Second Chronicles, his titular book, and Nehemiah. In the Hebrew Bible, Ezra-Nehemiah is a single book.

The book of Ezra is a brief history of the return of the Jewish people from exile and captivity to the land that the Israelite nation had once been ruled. The focus is on the Jerusalem, especially the rebuilding of the temple.

The return began under the reign of the Persian king Cyrus. Ezra covers the period into the reign of Artaxerxes. The work of rebuilding the temple and the city took decades, and it was delayed by opposition, though a reiteration of Cyrus’ command by his successor Darius got the work moving again. Ezra copies the orders and correspondence of these kings.

There is a shift to the first person in the final chapters, when Ezra himself arrives in Jerusalem. He came to work at the temple and reestablish the religious practices of the Jewish people.

To me, the book is not about the restoration of the Israelite nation. It is about the return of a people to the God who called them. Ezra called people to abandon the idolatrous practices they picked up in their exile or from the people living around them and to return to the worship of God and respect for His law. Ezra’s interest is a religious revival.

Ezra is credited with writing


Ezra. The Holy Bible. New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1982.