The books of Ezra & Nehemiah can be hard to follow, but here I break it down in a way you can understand and relate to the rest of the books of the Old Testament.
THE BOOKS OF EZRA & NEHEMIAH: THE JEWS RETURN FROM EXILE
The Israelites (also referred to as the Hebrews or Jews) have been through a lot. After their rescue from Egypt, entering the Promised Land, receiving their own King, and going into civil war, neighboring countries attack and overthrow them.
The northern kingdom of Israel was exiled by the Assyrian nation and then the southern kingdom of Judah was exiled by Babylonians. Later, Babylon takes over Assyria and eventually everyone is overthrown by the Persian Empire.
Fortunately, when the Persians enter the picture, it is good news for the Jews, as the Persian King Cyrus allows the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple (which the Babylonians destroyed) in Jerusalem.
It’s been 70 years of exile and a new generation has risen up. Many people are accustomed to their new life and don’t want to leave, but for those who do, they are now allowed. There are three waves (or return trips) in which they go back to their homeland.
- 1st group led by Zerubbabel in 538 BC
- 2nd group led by Ezra in 457 BC
- 3rd group led by Nehemiah in 444 BC
The mission of these three groups upon return is:
- Rebuilding the Temple
- Restoring worship and repentance
- Rebuilding walls to fortify the city of Jerusalem
A KINGDOM WITHOUT A KING
While the Israelites never again receive a king of their own, they are given their land back and freedom to worship their God. However, they are met with opposition all throughout their efforts, but with the help of these three men (Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah), they get the temple, worship and wall restored.
During this time, they are still ruled by the Persian empire, and you can read more details of these times and stories in the books of Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and Esther.
THE BOOKS OF EZRA & NEHEMIAH PRINTABLES
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You can find all of my Bible Timelines as I work my way through the ENTIRE BIBLE in my shop.
For more Biblical history, check out these other posts:
- Genesis Study
- Bible Notes on 1 & 2 Samuel
- 1 & 2 Kings Notes
- 1 & 2 Chronicles Notes
- Understanding the Old Testament Timeline
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