1. In the earliest Hebrew manuscripts Ezra and Nehemiah were one book.
2. Ezra follows the outline listed below:
Ezra 1:1 to 2:70 first group of exiles return to Judah
Ezra 3:1 to 6:22 the temple is rebuilt
Ezra 7:1 to 10:44 Ezra returns and beings ministry
3. Scholars think the author of Ezra/Nehemiah also wrote Chronicles 1 and 2. They all share certain characteristics.
4. The writing of Ezra has been dated to 440 BC. The text discusses the rebuilding of the temple in 516 BC
5. Ezra taught the people the law and reformed their religious life.
6. Ezra’s actions were important since surrounding nations needed to see God’s chosen people had returned.
7. Hebrew exiles began to return to Judah from Babylon during the reign of Cyrus (559-530 BC)
8. Cyrus of Persia allowed the exiles to return with the captured temple treasures.
9. King Darius I (522-486 BC) gave permission/authorization for the temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem.
10. During the reign of Artaxerxes (465-424 BC) other exiles were allowed to return. Among them were Ezra and Nehemiah who was charged to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
11. The Murashu Archives at Nippur contain the tablets which document the rebuilding of the temple. Ezra contains Persian Court information, lists, and narrative letters see 6:16. Jews remained in Babylonia amost 50 years after Ezra.
12. Why did the Babylonians suddenly allow the Hebrews to trickle home over time? In 539 BC Babylonia fell to the Persians.
13. Nearly 50,000 Hebrews were in the first group to relocate. The temple treasures were entrusted to Sheshbazzar, a Jewish prince. Upon arriving in Jerusalem Zerubbabel is mentioned as a leader, but this could be another name for Sheshbazzar.
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