Exposit The Word Ezra Biblical Teaching Expository Teaching Verse by Verse Jesse Johnson

Ezra Overview

Even though Ezra’s name does not enter the account of Judah’s post-Exilic return to Jerusalem until 7:1, the book bears his name (“Jehovah helps”) as a title. This is because both Jewish and Christian tradition attribute authorship to this famous scribe-priest. New Testament writers do not quote the book of Ezra.
God had originally brought Israel out of the slave markets of Egypt in the Exodus (ca. 1445 B.C.). Hundreds of years later, before the events of Ezra, God told His people that if they chose to break their covenant with Him, He would again allow other nations to take them into slavery (Jer. 2:14–25). In spite of God’s repeated warnings from the mouths of His prophets, Israel and Judah chose to reject their Lord and to participate in the worship of foreign gods, in addition to committing the abominable practices which accompanied idolatry (cf. 2 Kin. 17:7–18; Jer. 2:7–13). True to His promise, God brought the Assyrians and Babylonians to issue His chastisement upon wayward Israel and Judah.

In 722 B.C. the Assyrians deported the 10 northern tribes and scattered them all over their empire (cf. 2 Kin. 17:24–41; Is. 7:8). Several centuries later, in 605–586 B.C., God used the Babylonians to sack and nearly depopulate Jerusalem. Because Judah persisted in her unfaithfulness to the covenant, God chastened His people with 70 years of captivity (Jer. 25:11), from which they returned to Jerusalem as reported by Ezra and Nehemiah. Cyrus, the Persian, overthrew Babylon in 539 B.C., and the book of Ezra begins with the decree of Cyrus one year later for the Jews to return to Jerusalem (ca. 538 B.C.), and it chronicles the reestablishment of Judah’s national calendar of feasts and sacrifices, including the rebuilding of the second temple (begun in 536 B.C. and completed in 516 B.C.).

As there had been 3 waves of deportation from Israel into Babylon (605 B.C., 597 B.C., and 586 B.C.), so there were actually 3 returns to Jerusalem over a 9-decade span. Zerubbabel first returned in 538 B.C. He was followed by Ezra, who led the second return in 458 B.C. Nehemiah did likewise 13 years later, in 445 B.C. Complete uncontested political autonomy, however, never returned. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah preached during Zerubbabel’s time, about 520 B.C. and following.

Text used with permission from GTY.org

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”  2 Timothy 3:16

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