The stories of the Jews’ return from exile and the restoration of their ruined temple and city is told in the book of Ezra and continued in the book of Nehemiah. The central figure is Ezra, a scribe from a priestly family. But Ezra himself does not appear in the book until {Ezra ch. 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.} The earlier chapters are devoted to the rebuilding of the temple by the returned exiles under the political leader Zerubbabel! And the priestly leader Jeshua. To rebuild the temple, they had to overcome opposition from “the people of the land”{ Ezra 4:1-5  Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.}, but in the end they completed the structure.

Tradition holds that the author of the book is Ezra himself. If so, then Ezra may have also been the Chronicler, the author of the priestly history found in 1 and 2 Chronicles, because the Book of Ezra picks up at the precise moment that Chronicles ends. {2 Chronicles 36:22-23 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.} and the Book of Ezra begins:

© Photo Artist Susan ruth Robertson 09002500100 010.JPG

{Ezra 1:1-4  Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourned, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.} with the decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C. that allowed the exiles to return. Other scholars believe that one or more editors complied the material now known as 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah. {Ezra 1:1- 2:70}

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