God had promised captivity judgment to the sinning nation of Israel, and He fulfilled His promise. He also promised that a remnant would return to Jerusalem (see Jeremiah 25:12-14 and 29:10- 14). Ezra and Nehemiah tell the story of the return to the land and the city, the rebuilding of the Temple, and the rebuilding of the walls. The Book of Esther also fits into this period, as do the Books of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.

Ezra is presented as a godly and patriotic Jew, who was a priest and scribe (Ezra 7:1-6). He was a great student of the Scriptures, and helped to restore the Jew of the land. We will find in chapter 8 that he was a man of prayer and, in chapter 9, that he was a man who was greatly burdened for the spiritual welfare of his people. His name means "help" and throughout the Book of Ezra we will see that his faith in the Lord is seen by his willingness to undertake the dangerous journey from Babylonia to Jerusalem without the aid of military escorts.

Chapters 1--3 record key events in the history of the remnant of Israel (the returning to their land, recorded in chapters 1 and 2, and the rebuilding of the Temple, recorded in chapter 3).

The Book of Ezra records chronologically the return of the remnant to Jerusalem and the events which took place after their return. The book records the rebuilding of the Temple and its dedication. There were 42,360 Jews who returned and participated in the rebuilding. They were permitted to do so by a proclamation issued by Cyrus, king of Persia. It is possible that King Cyrus was influenced by the prophet Daniel, and may have heard from his lips the history of Nebuchadnezzar, as well as the great prophecies.

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