1 - 10
RETURN TO: FEASTS Of The LORD.Net
Keywords & Emphasis:
King’s decree to Ezra & Zerubbabel to rebuild the house of God at Jerusalem;
Ezra to rebuild the spiritual condition of the people; deliverance from bondage
Physical restoration of the temple guided by Zerubbabel; spiritual reformation
guided by Ezra
Book of Ezra In-Context Overview:
Theme: Ezra instructed to guide Jews return to Jerusalem and rebuild
the house of God.
20 References to rebuilding the temple;
1:2 3:2,6,8,10,11,12, 4:24 5: 2,13,16 6:3,14
0 references to rebuilding the walls and gates city of Jerusalem.
Chapter 1-6: 536-516 B.C. Ezra ordered to rebuild the “House of God”
457 B.C. Ezra leads the 4th and last group of people back from Babylon to Jerusalem
8-10: Ezra struggles with the repopulation and moral restoration
1 – 10:
In the 1st year of his reign, Cyrus made a proclamation
charging Ezra to return to Jerusalem to build the house of his God.
On the 7th
month, Zerubbabel & Joshua the priest build the altar to observe the Feast of Tabernacles, but the foundation of the
temple of the Lord was not yet laid (3:6). Then in the 2nd month of the 2nd year
of their return to Jerusalem to rebuild the house of God (3:8), they set forth the work to build the house of
the Lord (3:8, 9, 10, 11, 12), and the foundation of the house of the Lord was completed.
petition King Cyrus, then King Artexerxes, against the Jews in Jerusalem, causing work on the house of God to cease until
the 2nd year of the reign of King Darius (4:24). Then Zerubbabel arose to rebuild
the house of God at Jerusalem (5:2). He showed King Darius the original decree of King Cyrus
to rebuild the house of God that was not yet finished (5:13, 16). King Darius issued a decree to search
for the records and found that in the 1st year of Cyrus, a decree was made concerning the house of God
at Jerusalem, authorizing that it be built (6:1-3). So the temple was rebuilt and finished
according to the commands of Cyrus, Darius & Artexerxes. It was completed in the
month of Adar in the 6th year of the reign of Darius, i.e. 516 B.C. (6:14-15). So they
kept the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread on the 14th day of Nissan.
Ezra Chapter 7 In-Context Overview:
In Chapter 7 there are 7 references to restoring
the “House of God”.
No references to "rebuilding Jerusalem".
Ezra leads the people to repopulate Jerusalem and restore worship in the
house of God, 457 B.C.
In the 7th year of Artexerxes, Ezra
reflects on his journey from Babylon to Jerusalem, according to all his requests and prepares his heart to seek
the law of the Lord and to do it, and to teach IN Israel statues and judgments. He travels
from Babylon to Jerusalem from the first day of the 1st month (Nissan), to the first day of the 4th
King Artexerxes issues a decree (v13)
that all who wish to go to Jerusalem with Ezra(v13) were to carry the silver and gold (v15) to purchase the offerings
for the temple (v17) and to offer them upon the altar in the house of God (v.19). If more be needed for
house of God (v.20), King Artexerxes decrees (v20) that the king’s treasure house is open (v20), as Ezra
and the priests have need for the house of God (v.21) and No tribute (v.24) shall be imposed upon the ministers of the
house of God (v.24).
instructed by the king to set up magistrates and judges who may judge all the people according to
the laws of his god, and to teach them what the laws and statutes of his God and be judged accordingly
Ezra prepares to leave for Jerusalem on
the first day of the first month, in the 7th year of Artexerxes (28).
Ezra Chapter 8-10:
Ezra restores ministers for temple service and struggles with moral reforms of the people.
1 - 13 HERMENEUTICAL
CHAPTER 2 EMPHASIS
Keywords & Emphasis:
Nehemiah as governor
for 12 years establishes the physical and political reconstruction of Jerusalem starting with rebuilding the outer walls and security
Artexerxes’ decree, 445 B.C.
Book of Nehemiah In-Context
Theme: Nehemiah is appointed governor, and is instructed by the king to return
Jerusalem that had been left to lay wasted.
8 references to rebuilding Jerusalem; Neh.
2:3,5,8,17 4:6, 17-18 6:15, 12:27
references to rebuilding the temple
Nehemiah Chapter 2 In-Context Overview:
In the month
of Nissan in the 20th year of Artexerxes, Nehemiah requests the king’s permission to return to Judea in
the city of his fathers so that he may rebuild it (v.5). Artexerxes issues a letter of approval, which
includes instruction to the keeper of the king’s forest to make it available for Nehemiah’s use in rebuilding
the walls and gates for the city of Jerusalem (v.8).
Nehemiah travels to Jerusalem and inspects the gates & walls.
was left to lay wasted and broken down.
the rulers and the priests, saying to them, “You see the distress of Jerusalem laid waste and the gates thereof.
“Come let us build up the wall of Jerusalem.” They replied, “Let
us rise up and build for this good work.”
Gentile inhabitants scorn & ridicule them, so Nehemiah rejects them as participants in the rebuilding.
This is a record of the participants and building
activities that occurred and those Gentiles who conspired to hinder Nehemiah’s work.
Nehemiah comments: “So built we built
the wall, and all the wall was joined together, for the people had a mind to work.” (4:6)
Nehemiah is appointed governor of Judea
from the 20th-32nd year of Artexerxes (5:14).
So the wall was finished in 52 days (6:15).
and the priests bring the Book of the Law on the 1st day of the 7th months for the people to gather
and receive the Book of the Law. The people lifted up their hands, bowing before the Lord as they’re
given understanding from the reading of the Law by Ezra. They celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles in
the 7th month as a solemn assembly.
people continue to receive the Law of the Lord and worship God.
They become reestablished in Jerusalem and the land of Judea.
The wall of Jerusalem
is dedicated, with celebrations for same with sacrificial praise offerings. Yet the people relapse
into sinful ways until Nehemiah reforms the office in the house of God.
Ezra – Nehemiah Hermeneutics
Starting in 536 B.C. the rebuilding of “the House of God” is
the central ‘in-context’ theme in the book of Ezra. A careful word search in the
book of Ezra shows a continual reiteration of the terms “the House of God” as being the focus of attention
and the purpose of any building activity occurring therein. The book of Ezra has 20 references
to rebuilding the Temple and no references to rebuilding the “City of Jerusalem”. In contrast,
Nehemiah has 8 references to rebuilding the “City of Jerusalem” and zero references to rebuilding
By 457 B.C., “the House
of God” was still not rebuilt. It was at this time that Ezra received his order to again
attempt to restore and rebuild “the House of God”. Ezra Chapter 7, written in 457
B.C., reiterates seven times the order to rebuild “the House of God”, emphasizing that Ezra was to
appoint magistrates and judges to teach the people the laws of God that they might judge according to the laws
of God. Judgment by those appointed by Ezra was to be applied as part of the restoration of
the Temple functions. The monies and materials that Artexerxes gave to Ezra were for the sole
purpose of rebuilding “the House of God”.
It is not until the book of Nehemiah in 445 B.C. that there is any decree, order or monies
specifically provided by any king for the restoration and rebuilding of the “City of Jerusalem”.
This is clear by reviewing Nehemiah’s request to rebuild the city of Jerusalem because it still “lay
wasted”. In other words, it had never been rebuilt. In fact, the rebuilding
of the Temple itself took an arduous 79 years from 536 B.C. to 457 B.C. to rebuild “the House of God”.
Now 12 years after the completion
of the rebuilding of the Temple, Nehemiah finally receives the order and the monies specifically provided for
the rebuilding of the “City of Jerusalem”. In contrast, prior orders and monies
were given to Ezra strictly for the rebuilding of the Temple. The book of Nehemiah is solely
allotted to the theme of rebuilding the “City of Jerusalem” just as the book of Ezra theme is focused
upon the restoration of “the House of God” and teaching God’s Law.
Both of these themes culminate in 445 B.C. with celebration of the completion of
Nehemiah’s work. Ezra and the priests joined Nehemiah in celebration, worship and the
teaching of God’s Law as noted in Nehemiah Chapter 8.
In conclusion, the in-context hermeneutical interpretation of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah
clearly demonstrate that they each carried out their distinct duties as ordered and funded by the king.
Ezra performed those duties of a priest and scribe for the building and restoration of instructing God’s
Law in “the House of God”. Nehemiah completed the work of construction and administration
to restore and rebuild the “City of Jerusalem”.
It is unsound hermeneutics to construe Ezra as having been given the order to restore and
rebuild Jerusalem. That is simply not the case. It had still lay in waste some
12 years after the completion of the Temple.
“Primary attention should be given
to the literal sense. Understand each passage in its ‘first sense’, i.e. its literal
or obvious meaning. The first sense of the passage must never be drowned; it must be distinctly
declared. Accommodation must never thrust out the original and native meaning. A passage should
not be strained.” Charles Spurgeon.