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Book of Ezra


Author and Date
The Ezra memoirs (see ) may be dated c. 440 b.c. and the Nehemiah memoirs c. 430. These were then combined with other materials somewhat later. See Introduction to 1 Chronicles: Author, Date and Sources.

Theme and Message
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah relate how God's covenant people were restored from Babylonian exile to the covenant land as a theocratic (kingdom of God) community even while continuing under Gentile rule. The major theological themes of this account are:

    1. The restoration of Israel from exile was God's doing. He moved the hearts of Persian emperors; he moved the hearts of the repatriates and those who supported them; he raised up prophets to prod and support the repatriates; he protected them on the way and delivered them from their opponents; he stirred up Ezra and Nehemiah to perform their separate ministries; he prospered the rebuilding of the temple and Jerusalem.
    2. The restoration of the covenant community was complete -- even though political independence was not attained. "All Israel" was repatriated through a representative remnant; the temple was rebuilt and its services (daily sacrifices, priestly ministries, Levitical praise, annual feasts) revived in accordance with the Law of Moses and the regulations instituted by David; the Law was reestablished as regulative for the life of the community; the "holy city" (Jerusalem) was rebuilt and inhabited; the people were purged; the covenant was renewed.
    3. Just as God used the world powers to judge his people, so he used them to restore his people to their land; imperial action and authority directly and indirectly initiated, protected and sustained every aspect of the restoration.
    4. Israel's restoration evoked fierce opposition, but that opposition was thwarted at every turn.
    5. The restored community was a chastened people, yet they were also in need of frequent rebuke and reformation. Israel remained a wayward people. They still awaited the "new covenant" of which Jeremiah had spoken (ch. here ) and the renewal to be effected by God's Spirit as announced by Joel here () and Ezekiel here (