It is a record of events occurring at the close of the Babylonian captivity. In describing the initial stages of the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem and Ezra's establishment of strict traditions of religious and racial purity, the book recounts the historic beginnings of Judaism —as distinguished from the ancient Israelite religion which preceded it.
Ezra the Scribe is the traditional author of this book and some modern scholars agree that he may have been the writer of at least part of it. The book covers a period of about 80 years, with a gap of approximately 60 years coming between chapters six and seven. It is thus divided into two principal parts:. The book contains purported copies of several historical documents and other memorabilia connected with the history of the Jews, including the supposed decree of Cyrus B. It also gives information on an attempt by the people later known as the Samaritans to assist the Jews in rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem, as well as their actions to hinder its progress when they were rebuffed.
He returns to them the golden vessels which had been carried off by Nebuchadnezzar.
The number of the captives who return from Babylon to Palestine with the governor Zerubbabel is stated as 42,, besides 7, male and female slaves and singers. Zerubbabel and the priest Jeshua ben Jozadak supervise in building the altar. Sacrifices are offered and the Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated.
Books of Ezra and Nehemiah
In the second year the foundations of the temple are laid, and the dedication takes place with great rejoicing. Zerubbabel and the other leaders harshly rebuff them, invoking Cyrus' decree and declaring: "You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. Later, after Cyrus' death, they lodge various complaints with Persian officials which succeed in procuring a prohibition against further construction of the temple. The work is interrupted untill the second year of Darius. Tatnai, the Persian governor west of the Euphrates , sends a report of these actions to Darius, a purported copy of which is preserved in the text.
Books of Ezra and Nehemiah | Old Testament | pefawuqa.cf
It recommends that a search be made in the royal archives to confirm Cyrus' supposed decree regarding the Temple of Jerusalem. He also exempts them from tribute and supplies them with everything necessary for their offerings. The temple is finished in the month of Adar, in the sixth year of Darius, and is dedicated in a ceremony involving the sacrifice of hundreds of animals. Later, the Passover feast is celebrated with great joy. Ezra is described as "a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses. As God's agent—and the king's—he is empowered to punish those who disobey with "death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.
Ezra, writing in the first person, describes how he led his caravan safely to its destination and delivered the sacred vessels to the temple. Ezra, who follows a strict interpretation of the Law of Moses banning intermarriage and friendship with non-Israelites, is appalled at this, tears his clothes and beard, and prays at length to God. He issues a proclamation calling the returnees to assemble in Jerusalem. Ezra decrees that all who have taken foreign wives are compelled to divorce them. The rest of the leaders agree to enforce the decree, and the book closes with a list of prominent men who had married non-Israelite women, including some who also had children by these wives.
The canonical Book of Ezra commences where the Books of Chronicles leave off, and indeed with slight variation repeats the last two verses of 2 Chronicles. What follows consists of three portions:. The authenticity of the documents is a matter on which there is a difference of opinion, critics being disposed to regard most or all of them as inauthentic, whereas before the nineteenth century they were generally thought to be genuine.
Significantly, the edict of Cyrus, said to have been found at Achmetha , could hardly have been written by that king as it appears in Ezra, in which Cyrus portrays himself as consciously inspired by Yahweh. However, the general intent of the decree was confirmed by the discovery of the Cyrus cylinder in , which proclaims:. While the historicity of Ezra's account is thus somewhat confirmed, there is a profound irony in the above quote from Cyrus, in that he presents Marduk as the deity who inspires him. Marduk was the eastern name of Baal , or at least a deity very similar to Baal, whom the Jews viewed as Yahweh's mortal enemy.
Ezra and Nehemiah are a single book in the Jewish canon. Later works, e. Protestants treat them separately. The uniformity of language, style, and ideas of the two books and Chronicles mark the entire work as the product of a single author, known as the Chronicler. He belongs to a period after the Babylonian Exile , probably about — bc.
Ezra 1—6 treats the return of the exiles and the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem. The work of Ezra and Nehemiah in reconstituting the life of the people following the Exile is told in Ezra 7—Nehemiah Textual dislocations raise a question about the chronological sequence of Ezra and Nehemiah to which there is no solid answer.
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Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. See Article History. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. The final books of the Hebrew Bible are the books of Chronicles and Ezra—Nehemiah, which once formed a unitary history of Israel from Adam to the 4th century bce , written by an anonymous Chronicler. That these books constituted a single work—referred…. Knowledge of Ezra is derived from the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, supplemented by the Apocryphal not included in the Jewish and Protestant canons of the Old Testament book of I Esdras Latin Vulgate form of the name Ezra , which preserves the Greek text of Ezra….
He sent a report to Darius, who responded with instructions to allow the work to proceed.
Who wrote this book?
Tattenai is one of the few Persian officials mentioned in the…. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice.