1. What timeframe does the Book of Ezra cover?
The book of Ezra’s time frame is from (537 BC until 456 BC)
2. Did the Israelites willingly go back to Judah?
I believe some of them did! Some stayed in Persia, which was Esther and others. Only a remnant actually returned. There were a total of about 60,000 Jews who took advantage of King Cyrus’ gracious offer. They returned in three separate groups, led by three notable men of God, Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
3. How could the Israelites afford to rebuild the Temple? (Ezra 1:2-11)
“2Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
3Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem. 5Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.6And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.7Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; 8Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.9And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives,10Thirty basins of gold, silver basins of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. 11All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.”
4. What happened to all the temple wares that Nebuchadnezzar took?
The Babylonian general, Nebuzaraddan, was sent to complete its destruction. Jerusalem was plundered, and Solomon’s Temple was destroyed. Most of the elite were taken into captivity in Babylon. He also distributed these captives into several colonies, and in the temple of Belus he deposited the sacred vessels of the temple of Jerusalem, and other rich spoils.
5. Did Zerubbabel help rebuild the Temple?
Yes, It took Zerubbabel two years to rebuild the foundation of the temple. Then construction was delayed by Samaritan settlers whose friendly overtures masked a hidden hostility (Ezra 4:1–5). As a result of the opposition to the temple construction, Persiawithdrew support for the project, and for seventeen years the temple sat unfinished (Ezra 4:21). Finally, God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage and support Zerubbabel (Ezra 5:1–2), and the work on the second temple resumed. Four years later, in 515 BC, the temple was completed and dedicated with great fanfare (Ezra 6:16). The Jews also observed the Passover (Ezra 6:19). It’s interesting that Zerubbabel is never mentioned in connection with the dedication ceremonies, nor is his name mentioned again after Ezra 5:1.
6. Was the task done without conflict?
No, it was not! The Samaritan opposition brought construction to a halt in 536 B.C. Ezra 4:24 notes, “Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” The temple project languished for 16 years, until 520 B.C.
7. What else happened to hinder them?
Other reasons crept in. At the time of Haggai’s prophecies, some Jews simply said that the timing was not right (Haggai 1:2). Yet the time was right for them to build their own homes. In fact, Haggai rebukes the people for their concern for their own houses while neglecting God’s house.
8. What prophets were alive during Darius’ reign?
From my understanding of the bible, it was Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, Nehemiah, Ezekiel, and Malachi, and also there were Zerubbabel and Jeshua.
9. Did they help rebuild the Temple?
Not all of them! I believe it was Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and other priests who went to rebuild the House of God.
10. So they began rebuilding again during Darius’ reign in Babylon (Persia)?
Ezra 4:24notes, “Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” The temple project languished for 16 years, until 520 B.C.
11. What got them going again?
Haggai prompted the restart of the temple building project (Ezra 5:2). Once God’s people were back on track, the temple was soon completed, on March 12, 515 B.C. (Ezra 6:13-15). This fulfilled Jeremiah’s prediction of a 70-year captivity (Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10) that lasted from Nebuchadnezzar’s burning of the temple in the fifth month of 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:8-9) until the new temple’s reopening in the twelfth month of 515 B.C. Ezra 5:1 Haggai and Zechariah, who received instructions from God in the 2nd year of Darius’ reign, that the rebuilding would resume.
12. Who opposed the rebuilding now? And he complained to Darius? And the document was found?
Ezra 5:3 says Governor Tattenai of the west province to the Euphrates River. The letter was address to King Darius concerning King Cyrus’ decree to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem; a search was made in Ezra 5:17.
13. How did Darius respond?
Ezra 6:1-12; Darius responded with a humble heart by sending a letter to the governor Tattenai to leave them alone and let the work continue.
14. Did Darius see God as being real?
Ezra 6:10; Yes. Darius wanted the priests to pray for him and his sons and offer up appropriate sacrifices for them.
15. Was there a 2nd Artaxerxes of Persia?
Ezra 7:1; Yes. He reigned during Ezra’s time.
16. Was Ezra a priest?
Ezra 7:5; Yes. He came from Aaron’s line; a scribe, well-versed in the Law of Moses. (v.11).
17. Where was Ezra from?
Ezra 7:6; He lived in Babylon, but he went to Jerusalem with some priests and Levites.
18. Was Ezra liked by Artaxerxes 2?
Ezra 7:6; Yes.
19. Why was Ezra so well liked by God?
Ezra 7:10; Because he determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those laws and regulations to the people of Israel.
Note: What a great life choice! How passionate are you to know God? God loves this attitude!
20. While they were exiled those 50+ years, what did many of the Jews do?
Ezra 9:2; They married pagans who worshipped idols.
21. Even Jewish leaders and officials did this?
Ezra 9:2; Yes.
22. What is considered a right attitude toward God’s word?
Ezra 9:4; When one trembles when reading or hearing it.
23. What baffled Ezra?
Ezra 9; Israel’s inability to keep themselves pure as God’s holy people.
24. What did the Israelites do to fix the error of intermarriage?
Ezra 10:16; They divorced their pagan wives in a massive ceremony.
25. What lessons can we glean from this?
Lesson I: If you think Ezra’s attitude toward his Maker was unusual, think again. You can have the same love for God that he did. He loved God’s word and took it to heart, devoting his life to learning it and teaching it too. If you do this, you will be as free as can be on this earth. It is true that you will see the struggles of mankind a waste of time in comparison to knowing God intimately. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than learning who God is. I anticipate the forever world and am terrified at the same time. It just doesn’t get better than this!
Lesson 2: Draw close to God no matter what your circumstances are. Ezra was in Babylon, loving God and drawing near. Wear out many bibles, marking them up as verses speak to you. When you can no longer see your notes, start afresh. I am so thankful to live at a time when I can easily acquire a fresh bible in the version of my choosing.
Lesson 3 = Powerful rulers do not intimidate God. He changes all hearts to do His will.