This series focuses on the three books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. These three books share a common theme: the restoration of Israel. We will be looking at the restoration of Israel through four main figures:
- Zerubbabel and the restoration of worship
- Ezra and the restoration of the Law
- Nehemiah and the restoration of the city
- Esther and the restoration of honor
Today we will begin with Zerubbabel and chapters 1 & 2 of Ezra.
1. The Background of the Return (Ezra 1:1)
In the first year of Cyrus. 538 B.C. Cyrus had just defeated Babylon, thus solidifying Persia’s status as the leading world power.
The prophecy of Jeremiah. This concluded the 70 year captivity of the Jews as prophesied by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 25:11 – 14.
The LORD “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus.” Possible reference in Josephus.
2. The Terms of the Return (1:2 – 11)
The Edict (v2 – 5). Cyrus allows the Jews to return to Jerusalem.
The Response (v6 – 11). The people begin to return. Cyrus restores belongings to the Temple.
3. The People of the Return (2:1 – 70)
- The leaders (2:2).
- The families (2:3 – 35).
- The consecrated servants (2:36 – 58).
- The priests (v36 – 39).
- The Levites (v40).
- The singers (v41).
- The gatekeepers (v42).
- The temple servants (v43 – 54)
- Solomon’s servants (v55 – 57).
- The “unconfirmed” (2:59 – 63). These people could not prove their heritage (v59).
- The total (2:64 – 67)