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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Ezra Book of

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The book of Ezra contains records of events occurring about the termination of the Babylonian exile. It comprises accounts of the favors bestowed upon the Jews by Persian kings; of the rebuilding of the temple; of the mission of Ezra to Jerusalem, and his regulations and reforms. Such records forming the subject of the book of Ezra, we must not be surprised that its parts are not so intimately connected with each other as we might have expected if the author had set forth his intention to furnish a complete history of his times.

The events narrated in the book of Ezra are spread over a period of about 79 years, under the reigns of Cyrus, Cambyses, Magus, or Pseudo-Smerdis, Darius Hystaspis, Xerxes, Artaxerxes (in the eighth year of whose reign the records of Ezra cease).

The beginning of the book of Ezra agrees verbatim with the conclusion of the second book of Chronicles, and terminates abruptly with the statement of the divorces effected by his authority, by which the marriages of Israelites with foreign women were dissolved.

Since the book of Ezra has no marked conclusion, it was, even in early times, considered to form part of the book of Nehemiah, the contents of which are of a similar description. As, however, the book of Ezra is a collection of detached records of remarkable events occurring at the conclusion of the exile and in the times immediately following it, attempting no display of the art of book-making, the mere want of an artificial conclusion cannot be considered a sufficient reason for regarding it as the first portion of Nehemiah. It is, however, likely that the similarity of the contents of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah was the cause of their being placed together in the Hebrew Bible.

The arrangement of the facts in the book of Ezra is chronological. The book may be divided into two portions. The first consists of Ezra 1-6, and contains the history of the returning exiles and of their rebuilding of the temple, and comprises the period from the first year of Cyrus, B.C. 536, to the sixth year of Darius Hystaspis, B.C. 515.

The second portion contains the personal history of the migration of Ezra to Palestine, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes. This latter portion, embracing Ezra 7-10, is an autobiography of Ezra during about twelve or thirteen months, in the seventh and eighth years of the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus.

We have spoken thus far of the canonical book of Ezra; there are, however, four books that have received this name, viz. the book noticed above, the only one which was received into the Hebrew canon under that name, the book of Nehemiah, and the two apocryphal books of Esdras, concerning which see Esdras, books of.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Ezra Book of'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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