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Ezra 7-9


A Devotional Journey
 led by Dr. Gene Pearson 
Thru the Bible in a Year
            The temple is completed about 516 B.C., and if the Artaxerxes, king of Persia is Artaxerxes I (as seems most likely), then the date of Ezra’s arrival is 568 B.C.  This means there is a gap of 60 years between chapter 6 and chapter 7.  The only aspect of this period mentioned is the opposition to the rebuilding of the city Jerusalem during the reign of Xerxes (486-465) in Ezra 4:6.  If, as some believe, the book of Malachi was written in 465 B.C., it provides additional information regarding the state of the Jews during this the interval.
            Ezra’s name may be a shortened form of Azariah, which appears twice in the genealogy.  The list of Ezra’s ancestors is intended to link him to Aaron and thereby authenticate his work.  His character is described in 7:10:  he devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching.
            The dating of Ezra’s journey is possible with some precision.  He began on April 8, 458 B.C. and arrived on August 4, 458.  Although Babylon lay only about 500 miles from Jerusalem, the route between the two cities went northwest along the Euphrates River before turning south and therefore was almost 900 miles.
            The letter from the king of Persia gives Ezra blanket authority throughout the region including all of Palestine and Syria.  This meant the Samaritans were also under his jurisdiction and perhaps explains their negative attitude towards him.  His efforts to unite the area in the proper adherence to the Law of the Lord must have involved considerable travel and explains the relative silence regarding his activities between 458 B.C. and 445 B.C.
            Ezra 4:8-6:14 and letters from Persian kings were written in Aramaic, the international language during the Persian Period.  In 7:27, Ezra begins an autobiographical account (first person) and begins using Hebrew.  He is seen as a priest exuberant over the temple and filled with praise for God.  He appears somewhat more timid than Nehemiah and overcomes this tendency through an awareness that the hand of the Lord my God was upon him (7:28).
            The list in chapter 8 indicates 1,496 men accompanied Ezra on his journey to Jerusalem, along with additional women and children, 40 Levites, and 220 temple servants.
            As you read about the dedication of Ezra and those who accompanied him, ask yourself:  are you devoted to the study and observance of God’s will in your own life?  How important is it to you that you learn and follow God’s leading?  Is there anything you are not doing that you should be...or doing that you should not?
© A. Eugene Pearson 2010