Author: Ezra

Period: 538-437 B.C.

Title: The Jews originally considered the books of Ezra and Nehemiah to be one book, although Nehemiah 1:1 divides the book into two units. Ezra-Nehemiah are also taken as one book in early copies of the Greek version of the Old Testament. The Medieval Church referred to these units as 1 and 2 Esdras (not to be confused with the apocryphal books of these titles, which would then be called 3 and 4 Esdras). In English versions the two units are called Ezra and Nehemiah respectively. If the name Ezra is a shortened form of the Hebrew Azariah, it means “The Lord helps.”

Summary: In general, Ezra covers the events of the Jews returning from the Babylonian captivity. The decline of Babylon and its eventual overthrow by the Persians expedited this return to Jerusalem. The Jews are numbered and are allowed to return to Judah to rebuild the Temple. Samaritan assistance is rejected and their opposition is a contributing factor to the slow progress of the Temple construction. Despite the delays, the Temple is completed and dedicated during this period.


The exiles return from Babylon: Chapter 1:1 – 2:70

  • The decree of Cyrus: 1:1-4
  • Preparations for the journey: 1:5-11
  • Those who returned: 2:1-70

Temple building begins: Chapter 3:1 – 4:24

  • The altar and the foundation: 3:1-13
  • Opposition to the work: 4:1-24

The building completed: Chapter 5:1- 6:22

Work resumed: 5:1-5

  • Tatnai’s letter to Darius: 5:6-17
  • Decrees of Cyrus and Darius: 6:1-12
  • The Temple finished: 6:13-22

Ezra’s journey to Jerusalem: Chapter 7:1 – 8:36

  • Ezra introduced: 7:1-10
  • Letter of Artaxerxes to Ezra: 7:11-28
  • The journey to Jerusalem: 8:1-36

The great reformation: Chapter 9:1 -10:44

  • The tragic report and Ezra’s prayer: 9:1-15
  • The abandonment of mixed marriages: 10:1-17
  • List of those with foreign wives: 10:18-44