Course Hero. "Old Testament Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Apr. 2018. Web. 20 June 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/>.
Course Hero. (2018, April 27). Old Testament Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 20, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/
(Course Hero, 2018)
Course Hero. "Old Testament Study Guide." April 27, 2018. Accessed June 20, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/.
Course Hero, "Old Testament Study Guide," April 27, 2018, accessed June 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Old-Testament/.
There is a major chronological break between Ezra 1–6, which narrates the initial dedication of the temple in the 6th century BCE, and Ezra 7–10, which introduce the person Ezra's reforms in the 5th century BCE. The first part of the book describes the return of Judean exiles in 538 BCE and their work restoring the temple over the next two decades.
At this point the narrative skips ahead about fifty years and relates Ezra's own return to Jerusalem around 460 BCE.
Ezra is complex and confusing for the reader. The story of events leading to the completion of the temple combines narrative and quotations of primary source documents. These sources include letters from the reigns of Darius and of Artaxerxes several decades later. The letters also refer to documents from the earlier time of Cyrus. When the first letter is introduced, the text of Ezra switches from Hebrew to Aramaic. When it returns to Hebrew at the end of chapter 7, Ezra narrates the story in the first person until the final chapter switches back to third person.
The primary concerns of the book of Ezra are clear. The first part of the book describes the process of rebuilding the temple after the return to Jerusalem, the people's dedication to that task, and Yahweh's provision for the temple's completion, even in the face of opposition and delays. Ezra presents all of these tasks as part of Yahweh's plan. He emphasizes that they require faithful obedience by the people. After Ezra returns several decades later, there are two primary concerns. The first is to instruct the people in proper observance of the Torah. The second is to maintain their distinctive cultural and ethnic identity by ending marriage with foreigners and dismissing any foreign wives already among them, along with their children. Ezra's instructions regarding these marriages were harsh and xenophobic. Ezra viewed them as necessary to prevent cultural assimilation amidst the vast and diverse Persian Empire.