Ezra-Nehemiah

This is an in-depth study on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which develops the story of Israel's return from exile in 539 BC under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. This study is 6 hours long (recorded in 2020). This is worth 2 Bible CEUs.

 

 

Ezra-Nehemiah Introduction
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28:50 min
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Ezra 1:1-2:70
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31:12 min
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Ezra 3:1-4:24
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40:05 min
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Ezra 5:1-6:22
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20:10 min
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Ezra 7:1-8:36
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28:02 min
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Ezra 9:1-15
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21:17 min
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Ezra 10:1-44
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25:44 min
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Nehemiah 1:1-4:23
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34:08 min
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Nehemiah 5:1-6:19
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34:49 min
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Nehemiah 7:1-8:18
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30:15 min
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Nehemiah 9:1-12:47
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28:24 min
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Nehemiah 13:1-31
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24:55 min
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The titles of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah come from the primary characters in the story. In the Hebrew Bible, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were a single book. Origen (184–253 AD), an early Christian scholar, was the first to divide the book into two separate books. They were called 1 and 2 Ezra (or Esdras, the Greek transliteration of Ezra). It was Jerome with his Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, who in the late 300s renamed the second book Nehemiah. This division and naming remained with all the following translations. Yet these two books read as one coherent story. It is not completely clear who wrote the books of Ezra-Nehemiah. Some have argued for the author of the book of Chronicles and others for Ezra and Nehemiah themselves. Ezra’s contribution can be seen in that he speaks in the first person in Ezra 7:28–8:34 and Ezra 9. Nehemiah’s contribution can be seen in that he speaks in the first person in Neh. 1–7 and 12:31–13:31. Most likely they are contributors to the book, while a final editor as late 400 BC finalized the book.

The purpose of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah is to show how Yahweh is faithful to continue to use His people to restore His chosen people as He promised through Moses and the prophets. These books portray the return from exile as a second exodus and show Yahweh doing great acts of deliverance and redemption with Ezra and Nehemiah as He had done with Moses before them. We see them back in the promised land as a new chosen people with a fresh start to become what Yahweh had redeemed them to be (Gen. 12:1-3; Ex. 19:3-6).

“The books of Ezra and Nehemiah reflect some of the bleakest and most difficult days of Israel’s long Old Testament history. Though the Exile was over and a remnant people was in process of rebuilding the superstructures of national life, the prospects for success paled in comparison to the halcyon days of the past when the Davidic kingdom dominated the entire eastern Mediterranean world. What was needed was a word of encouragement, a message of hope in the God who had once blessed His people above all nations of the earth and who had promised to do so again.

The great theological theme of the books lies, then, precisely in this nexus between the ancient promises of Yahweh and the present and future expectations of His chosen people. The postexilic community was small but its God is great. Reliance on such a God will assure a future more glorious than anything in the days gone by.”[1]

Running parallel with that is the secondary purpose of showing that the exile had not changed the people and that what they really needed was a new heart if they were to become what Yahweh had redeemed them to be (Jer. 31:33-34; 32:39; Ezek. 36:26-27). Despite their exile, their exodus, and the godly examples of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people continued to mix with the pagan cultures that surrounded them and fall back into the sinful practices that had led to their broken covenant and exile in the first place. And the glory of Yahweh never returned to the temple, leaving Ezekiel’s prophecy unfulfilled (Ezek. 40-47). Exile would not truly be over until the Branch came (Zech. 3:6-10; 4:6; 6:9-16) and changed Israel’s hearts (Rom. 8)

 

[1] Eugene H. Merrill, “A Theology of Ezra-Nehemiah and Esther,” in A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, pp. 200-201.