Ezra means ‘help’ and his whole life was dedicated to serving God.
This book was written approximately 450.BC; recording events from approximately 538 B.C. There is no confirmation of the authorship of this book, but many scholars believe Ezra the priest, scribe and great leader wrote the book.
The book of Ezra begins in 538 B.C. forty-eight years after king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, defeated the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and carried the Jews away to Babylon as captives. Nebuchadnezzar died approximately 562 B.C. and because his successor was not strong, Babylon was overthrown by the Persians in 539 B.C; just prior to events recorded in this book.
The primary architect of Israel’s new identity was Ezra (Ezra 7 v 6). By returning to Jerusalem from Babylon almost 80 years after Zerubbabel, the Israelites showed their faith in God’s promise to restore them as a people.
King Cyrus had already began his rise to power in the Near East, by unifying the Medes and Persians into a strong empire. Cyrus was used by God to return the children of Israel to their homeland, giving the decree, giving them protection, money and the Temple vessels taken previously by Nebuchadnezzar.
There were three journeys from Babylon to the land of Israel (538, 458 and 444 B.C.), just as there had been three deportations from Israel to Babylon (605, 597 and 586 B.C.) The first return was led by Zerubbabel with the purpose of building the Temple. The second return was under Ezra whose purpose was to reform and return the Jewish people to their covenant obligations. The third return was led by Nehemiah in 444 B.C.
Ezra’s example of humble confession and service resulted in a national revival. When Israel returned to their homeland, they once again became influenced by God’s Word. Followers of Jesus Christ similarly need the encouragement and direction of the Bible. Believers must make it the basis for their faith and actions in order to accomplish their purpose. Followers must never waver in their commitment to hear and obey God’s voice!