Bible Book Summary
by Jay Smith
Ezra is a book of Narrative History and Genealogies. It was written by Ezra at approximately 440 B.C. and records events up to 450 B.C. Key personalities include Cyrus, Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, Darius I, Artaxerxes I, and Zerubbabel.
Ezra’s purpose was to accurately record the events of the return from the Babylonian exile, after a seventy-year period and the events that surround the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. God is faithful in fulfilling His promises and so the Jews return to Jerusalem from their exile in Babylon.
• In Chapters 1-6, a relatively small number of Jews return to the city of Jerusalem and immediately prepare to construct the new temple. They began the planning, the gathering of materials, and the beginning of construction. The building drags on because the surrounding enemies begin oppressing and frightening them. Twenty years later, it is completed. “The sons of Israel who returned from exile and all those who had separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land to join them, to seek the LORD God of Israel, ate the Passover. And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the LORD had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel” (6:21-22).
• From chapters 7-10, the second group of Jews returns to Israel. Ezra is included in this return. He teaches the Law, but has problems with intermarriage and addresses the pagan women who brought their religious practices with them.
“For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (7:10), what a great example to follow!