The book of Ezra is known as a post-captivity book in the Historical Books section of the Bible. After the events in the books of Samuel, Kings and the records of the Chronicles, God decided to send judgement to the people of Israel for continuing to disobey Him and His Word. The nation was at the lowest point, even rejecting and attempting to kill the prophets that God sent to the nation.
Ezra begins where the second book of Chronicles left off when Cyrus, king Persia (the empire after Babylon) decreed that the captives could return back to Jerusalem and build the temple of God there.
The book of Ezra has two divisions:
- Chapters 1-6. The return under Zerubbabel and rebuilding of the temple.
- Chapters 7-10. The return under Ezra, and the reformation.
There is much teaching and instruction for us in this short post-captivity book, but I will not go through these here. I will attempt to provide a title or very brief description of each chapter in this interesting book for meditation purposes.
Chapter 1 – Revival by the edict of King Cyrus, and the trip to Jerusalem.
Chapter 2 – Numbering of those who returned. Bear in mind that those who returned represent around 0.5% of the whole population of the nation of Israel. This is what is referred to as a remnant. There was a captivity before Judah, and ten tribes were scattered abroad.
This chapter has many names, but just to divide this and put into perspective:
- The leaders named first
- The names of the returning exiles
- The priests
- The Levites and singers
- The porters and Nethinim
- Solomon’s servants
- Those who were doubtful of their descent. The number of the whole congregation who returned to Jerusalem was 42,360, which was a small remnant of the whole nation.
Chapter 3 – Rebuilding of the altar and foundations.
Chapter 4 – Opposition from the enemy and the temple building interrupted.
Chapter 5 – The words of Haggai and Zechariah to stir up the people to build the temple; letter sent to Darius inquiring about this.
Chapter 6 – Confirmation of the letter from Cyrus and completion of the temple.
Chapter 7 – Ezra; Artaxerxes’ letter and the journey to Jerusalem.
Chapter 8 – Those who returned with Ezra.
Chapter 9 – Failure and humiliation; Ezra confesses to God.
Chapter 10 – Separation of the Jews from evil. The effect of Ezra’s prayer, consequences of the people’s evil and the judgement.