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OT Survey II

Ezra/Nehemiah as Two Books

Modern versions split them

First Hebrew MS to split them: 1448
Latin Vulgate split them: ~400 AD
Origen first split them: ~225 AD
Ezra/Nehemiah as One Book

All Hebrew MSS before 1448 AD

Masoretes considered them one: >600 AD
Josephus considered them one? ~100 AD
Apocrypha considered them one? ~100 AD
4 Esdras 14:28-48 (RSV)
Hear these words, O Israel. At first our
fathers dwelt as aliens in Egypt, and they were
delivered from there, and received the law of
life, which they did not keep, which you also
have transgressed after them. The land was
given to you for a possession in the land of
Zion; but you and your fathers committed
iniquity and did not keep the ways which the
Most High commanded you. And because he is
a righteous judge, in due time he took from
you what he had given. And now you are here,
and your brethren are farther in the interior. If
you, then, will rule over your minds and
discipline your hearts, you shall be kept alive,
4 Esdras 14:28-48 (RSV)
. . . shall live again; and then the names of
the righteous will become manifest, and the
deeds of the ungodly will be disclosed. But let
no one come to me now, and let no one seek
me for forty days. So I took the five men, as
he commanded me, and we proceeded to the
field, and remained there. And on the next
day, behold, a voice called me, saying, Ezra,
open your mouth and drink what I give you to
drink. Then I opened my mouth, and behold, a
full cup was offered to me; it was full of
something like water, but its color was like fire.
And I took it and drank; and when I had drunk
it, my heart poured forth understanding, and
4 Esdras 14:28-48 (RSV)
. . . my mouth was opened, and was no longer
closed. And the Most High gave understanding
to the five men, and by turns they wrote what
was dictated, in characters which they did not
know. They sat forty days, and wrote during the
daytime, and ate their bread at night. As for
me, I spoke in the daytime and was not silent at
night. So during the forty days ninety-four
books were written. And when the forty days
were ended, the Most High spoke to me,
saying, Make public the twenty-four books that
you wrote first and let the worthy and the
unworthy read them; but keep the seventy that
were written last, in order to give them to the
wise among your people. For in them is the
24 Books of the Hebrew Canon
1 Genesis 15 Ezra 28 The Twelve
2 Exodus 16 Nehemiah 29 Joel
3 Leviticus 17 Esther 30 Amos
4 Numbers 18 Job 31 Obadiah
5 Deuteronomy 19 Psalms 32 Jonah
6 Joshua 20 Proverbs 33 Micah
7 Judges 21 Ecclesiastes 34 Nahum
8 Ruth 22 Song of 35 Habakkuk
9 Samuel (1) Solomon 36 Zephaniah
10 Samuel (2) 23 Isaiah 37 Haggai
11 Kings (1) 24 Jeremiah 38 Zechariah
12 Kings (2) 25 Lamentations 39 Malachi
13 Chronicles 26 Ezekiel
(1) 27 Daniel
24 Books of the Hebrew Canon
1 Genesis 12 Ezra 25 The Twelve
2 Exodus 13 Nehemiah
3 Leviticus 14 Esther
4 Numbers 15 Job
5 Deuteronomy 16 Psalms
6 Joshua 17 Proverbs
7 Judges 18 Ecclesiastes
8 Ruth 19 Song of
9 Samuel Solomon
10 Kings 20 Isaiah
11 Chronicles 21 Jeremiah
22 Lamentations
23 Ezekiel
24 Daniel
24 Books of the Hebrew Canon
1 Genesis 12 24 The Twelve
2 Exodus Ezra/Nehemiah
3 Leviticus 13 Esther
4 Numbers 14 Job
5 Deuteronomy 15 Psalms
6 Joshua 16 Proverbs
7 Judges 17 Ecclesiastes
8 Ruth 18 Song of
9 Samuel Solomon
19 Isaiah
10 Kings
20 Jeremiah
11 Chronicles
21 Lamentations
22 Ezekiel
23 Daniel
Ezra/Nehemiah as One Book

All Hebrew MSS before 1448 AD

Masoretes considered them one: >600 AD
Josephus considered them one? ~100 AD
Apocrypha considered them one? ~100 AD
Septuagint considered them one: ~250 BC
Time Period of Ezra/Nehemiah
Jacob born: 2006 BC (Gen 47:9)
Jacob enters Egypt: 1876 BC (Exod 12:40-41)
Exodus from Egypt: 1446 BC (1 Kings 6:1)
Solomons Temple Construction Begins: 966 BC
Northern Kingdom exiled: 722 BC (2 Kgs 17)
Southern Kingdom exiled: 586 BC (2 Kgs 25)
Decree of Cyrus: 539 BC (2 Chr 36 = Ezra 1)
Temple Rebuilt: 516 BC (Ezra 6:15)
Ezra returns: 458 BC (Ezra 7:7)
Wall Rebuilt: 445 BC (Neh 2:1; 6:15)
Nehemiah returns to Susa: 432 BC (Neh 13:6)
Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem: ??? BC (Neh 13)
Time Period of Ezra/Nehemiah
Before 1150 BC Egypt controls Palestine
1150 1010 BC Philistines/Israel fight for Palestine
1010 930 BC Israel dominates Palestine
930 850 BC No major empire in Palestine
850 612 BC Assyria the premier power
612 539 BC Bablyon the premier power
539 333 BC Persia the premier power
Alexander the Great, Maccabean revolt, Rome

Assyrian Empire
Babylonian Empire
Persian Empire
Kings of Persia
Cyrus the Great (559-530)
Also possibly referred to as Darius the Mede (?)
Founder of the Persian Empire
Gods Messiah (Isa 45:1)
King when Zerubbabel and company returned
Cambyses II (530-522)
Darius (521-486)
King when temple was completed (Ezra 5-6)
Haggai 1:1, Zechariah 1:1
Xerxes = Ahasuerus (486-465) Ezra 4:6
Esthers husband
Artaxerxes (464-424)
King served by Ezra and Nehemiah
Location of Ezra/Nehemiah in
English Hebrew
[Historical Books] [Torah]
Joshua [Former
Judges Prophets]
Ruth (Joshua through Kings)
[Latter Prophets]
Samuel (Isa, Jer, Ezek, 12)
Chronicles [Writings]
- Psalms/Job/Proverbs
Ezra - Megilloth (The 5 Scrolls)
Nehemiah - Daniel
Esther - Ezra-Nehemiah
- Chronicles
Outline of Ezra/Nehemiah
Ezra 1-2: Return of Zerubbabel
Ezra 3-6: Work of Zerubbabel (temple)
Ezra 7-8: Return of Ezra
Ezra 9-10: Work of Ezra (law)
Nehemiah 1-2: Return of Nehemiah
Nehemiah 3-7: Work of Nehemiah (wall)
Nehemiah 8-13: Final Reforms and Lists
Modified from David Dorsey, Literary Structure of the OT
Major Themes
His absolute sovereignty (1:2, 5:11-12; 6:9-10;
7:12, 21-23; Neh 1:4-5; 2:4, 20)
The phrase God of heaven is typical of post
exilic language. It occurs with reference to
Yahweh in the decree of Darius (Ezra 6:9-10),
as well as in that of Artaxerxes I (7:12, 21, 23).
Nehemiah, in his famous prayer in the
presence of this same Artaxerxes, addressed
Yahweh in the same terms. The reason is
obvious, for the setting of the accounts is no
longer the narrow confines of Palestine and the
chosen people but it is international. The
miraculous return and restoration of the pitiful
exile community against overwhelming odds
certified that Israels God is no parochial deity;
Eugene Merrill, A Theology of Ezra-Nehemiah and
rather, He Esther,
is god191of heaven itself.
Major Themes
His absolute sovereignty (1:2, 5:11-12; 6:9-10; 7:12,
21-23; Neh 1:4-5; 2:4, 20)
His providential hand
Decree of Cyrus Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Cyrus
Return of Jews Everyone whose spirit God had stirred up
Thwarting opposition But the eye of their God was on the
elders of the Jews, and they did not stop them
Source of joy Yahweh had caused them to rejoice, and
had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them
Foiling plots God had frustrated their plan
Nations observe They recognized that this work had been
accomplished with the help of our God
Giving ideas My god put it into my heart to assemble the
Major Themes (continued)
His providential hand (continued)
The king granted [Ezra] all he requested because the
hand of Yahweh his God was upon him
On the first of the fifth month [Ezra] came to
Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was
upon him.
Thus I [=Ezra] was strengthened according to the
hand of Yahweh, my God, upon me
According to the good hand of our God upon us they
brought us a man of insight
The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those
who seek Him
The hand of our God was over us, and He delivered
us from the hand of the enemy
The king granted them to me because the good hand
of my God was on me
I told them how the hand of my God had been
favorable to me
Major Themes (continued)
The law of God
Israel is in a strait because of disobedience to
it (Neh 1:8; 9)
Temple built in accordance with it (Ezra 3:2)
Ezra comes to instruct them in it (Ezra 7; Neh
Present commitment to it (Neh 10; 12:44; 13:3)
Confronting present sin (Ezra 10; Neh 13)
Confrontation and confession of sin
Joy and sorrow
The Priests, Levites, and the Temple
Purpose Statement of
On the one hand, Israel should
recognize that God is working behind
the scenes to bless them in accord
with His promises. However, Israel
must also recognize that it still lacks a
circumcised heart and must therefore
seek God in prayer and diligently
pursue obedience before they can
expect their final restoration.
Interpretative Issues
Historical confusion in Ezra 4?
Who is Sheshbazzar the prince of
Judah (Ezra 1:8, 11; 5:14, 16)?
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