Ezra - The Building of the Temple

  • The books of Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah cover the historical period of Israel’s captivity in Babylon and the period immediately following their return to Jerusalem.
  • In the Hebrew Bible, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are one book. Ezra is concerned with the building of the temple. Nehemiah is concerned with the building of the city and the walls of Jerusalem.
  • The book of Ezra begins right where II Chronicles leaves off (II Chronicles 36:22 and Ezra 1:1). This is one reason why it is felt that Ezra wrote both books. The book divides very naturally in line with the ministries of two men: Zerubbabel, in chapters 1 through 6; and Ezra, in chapters 7 through 10. Both of these men led the captives of Babylon back to Jerusalem.
  • Sandwiched between these two accounts is a gap of nearly six decades during which Esther lived and ruled as queen in Persia.
  • The book of Ezra is a simple and straightforward account of one of the most important events in Jewish history. It was written by Ezra, a priest, a scribe, and a great leader, and covers a period of over eighty years. It centers around God and His promise that the Jews would return to their land after seventy years of captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 25:11).
  1. Chapter 1 - Cyrus, king of Persia, conquered Babylon and granted permission to the Jews to return to their homeland.
  2. Chapter 2 - The first caravan of approximately fifty thousand returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel.
  3. Chapter 3 - After arriving, they began to build the altar and the temple foundation.
  4. Chapter 4 - Local opposition arose, and accusations and rumors temporarily halted the project.
  5. Chapter 5 - During this time, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the people.
  6. Chapter 6 - King Darius decreed that the work should proceed unhindered.
  7. Chapter 7 - After a fifty-eight-year gap, Ezra prepared to lead another group from Persia under the blessing of King Artaxerxes.
  8. Chapter 8 - Ezra and his company journeyed and eventually arrived in Jerusalem.
  9. Chapter 9 - Ezra wept and prayed for the nation because of their intermarriage with heathen.
  10. Chapter 10 - Ezra’s example of humble confession and prayer led to a national revival.

An outline for Ezra is:

  1. Restoration of the temple under Zerubbabel (chapters 1-6).
  2. Reformation of the people under Ezra (chapters 7-10).