Survey of the Bible - Ezra

Text: Jeremiah 29:10-14


I.         The book of Ezra continues the account left off from II Chronicles

            A.        Because of the fit between the end of II Chronicles and Ezra and because of the style, it is assumed that I Chronicles, II Chronicles and Ezra were all written by the same person

            B.        Portions of the book, from Ezra 7:28 to 9:15 are told in the first person from Ezra’s point of view.

                        1.         Jewish tradition also attributes the book to Ezra

                        2.         Strong emphasis on the priest’s point of view is further supporting evidence

            C.        The story is told in two sections

                        1.         The first return from Babylon in chapters 1 to 6 and covers a 22 year time period

                                    a.         The prophets Haggai and Zechariah write during this period

                        2.         The second return from Babylon in chapters 7 to 10 and covers a 1 year period of time

                        3.         There is an approximately sixty year gap between chapters 6 and 7

                        4.         The story of Esther occurs in the gap

                        5.         Nehemiah was a contemporary of Ezra - Nehemiah 8:1-3

                                    a.         The book of Nehemiah takes place after Ezra ends, but still during Ezra’s lifetime.

                                    b.         Nehemiah lead the third return to Israel

                                    c.         In the Hebrew Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah form one book.

            D.        What Ezra was like - Ezra 7:6,10

            E.        The book of Ezra is about the restoration of Israel both civil and spiritual

II.        First Return - Ezra 1-6

            A.        Zerubbabel leads 49,897 people back to Israel - Ezra 1-2

                        1.         Cyrus, king of Persia, conquers Babylon and one year later issues a decree allowing the Jews to return to their homeland - Ezra 1:1-4

                        2.         This was prophesied by Isaiah two hundred years prior, naming Cyrus by name - Isaiah 44:28-45:4

                        3.         Just less than 50,000 take advantage of the offer - Ezra 2:64-65

            B.        Construction of the temple - Ezra 3-6

                        1.         One of the first things done on the return was to set up the altar and begin the sacrifices and observing the feasts - Ezra 3:3-4, 6

                        2.         The next year work began on the foundation of the Temple - Ezra 3:9-13

                        3.         The Samaritans, those left in Israel after the Assyrian captivity who were of mixed lineage, wanted to help, but they were rejected. In anger they worked at stopping the project - Ezra 4:1-5, 23-24

                        4.         The books of Haggai and Zachariah are written at this time - Haggai 1:1-5

                        5.         The result was the temple project was restarted - Ezra 5:1-2

                        6.         The opposition again arose, but this time it was overcome. A search was made of the archives and it was found that Cyrus did authorize the building, so it was allowed to finish. The king, Darius, even offered to pay for the construction - Ezra 6:8

                        7.         The temple was completed - Ezra 6:14-15

III.       Second Return - Ezra 7-10

            A.        Ezra leads 1,754 people back to Israel - Ezra 7-8

                        1.         Ezra leads the second return - Ezra 7:9-10

                        2.         This trip was funded by Artaxerxes

                        3.         A count of the returning Israelites was done

                        4.         With all the generosity, Ezra did not want to ask for protection - Ezra 8:21-23.

            B.        Restoration of the people - Ezra 9-10

                        1.         The returned people started intermarrying with idolaters - Ezra 9:1-2; Deuteronomy 7:1-4

                        2.         This particularly upset Ezra after all that God did for Israel - Ezra 9:3-15

                        3.         The people responded making a covenant with God - Ezra 10:3-5

                        4.         The people responded by separating from their idolatrous spouses - Ezra 10:10-12

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