The Well Community Church

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Ezra / Esther / Nehemiah / Haggai / Zechariah / Malachi

May 26, 2013

These six books walk through the repopulation of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple and the wall of the city, but the journey of rebuilding a city fades in comparison to the difficulty in restoring a people. The struggle in these final books reflects a compromise at the highest level of spiritual leadership that then influences the masses.

Ezra

Author

Uncertain. Hebrew tradition says Ezra is the strongest candidate, although internal evidence points to the usage of memoirs by both Ezra and Nehemiah.

Date

Likely approx. 450-440 B.C., after Ezra’s time in Jerusalem and during the time of Nehemiah.

Theme

Israel’s Return

This is Israel's return from Babylon to rebuild the temple, and their return to social and spiritual reform.

Additional Info

Ezra and Nehemiah are one book in both the Hebrew and Greek (Septuagint) Old Testament. Ezra is written as a historical record and picks up where Chronicles leaves off. It makes no prophetic claims at all. Chapters 1-6 relate the efforts of the Israelites, under the direction of Zerubbabel, along with the prophets Zechariah and Haggai, to rebuild the temple. Chapters 7-10 relate the return of Ezra the priest with the Levites and the spiritual reformations that take place under Ezra’s leadership.

© Dr. Rick Taylor

Esther

Author

Unknown. Ezra, Nehemiah and Mordecai are good candidates.

Date

484-473 B.C. between when the first and second remnants returned to Jerusalem.

Theme

Israel’s Deliverance

Israel was delivered from zealous bigots and from a strong-willed king, through a faithful woman who became queen of Babylon.

Additional Info

The book of Esther takes place between chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra. The Jewish people are in exile, scattered throughout the great Media-Persian Empire. The purpose of the book was to encourage and comfort the scattered Jews and to explain and trace the origin of the Feast of Purim.

© Dr. Rick Taylor

Nehemiah

Author

Uncertain. Hebrew tradition suggests Ezra as the strongest candidate as the author and compiler, possibly including memoirs originally written by Nehemiah.

Date

Likely approx. 416-400 B.C.

Theme

Israel’s Rebuilding

This is a rebuilding in Nehemiah’s heart, with Nehemiah’s plan, of the wall, and of city and national infrastructure, in spite of much opposition.

Additional Info

Ezra and Nehemiah are one book in both the Hebrew and Greek (Septuagint) Old Testament. Nehemiah went back to Jerusalem in 445 B.C., taking the third wave of exiles with him. He stayed in Jerusalem for 12 years, rebuilding the wall, leading the people, igniting a spiritual fervor in the people and creating a unified community. When Nehemiah went back to Persia, the people quickly fell back into their sin and he was grieved by the extent of their sin that had developed in such a short time. He returned to Jerusalem in 420 B.C. and worked to clean up the mess they had made.

© Rick Taylor

Haggai

Author

Haggai, the prophet.

Date

520 B.C. during the second year of the reign of Darius, the Mede. The Dead Sea Scrolls verify this dating.

Theme

God’s Returning Promises

These are God's promises to those who have returned from captivity to rebuild the temple, that He will bless their obedience.

Additional Info

Haggai’s name means “festive” and he was a contemporary of Zechariah. Their message was a reminder to the people of the main reason they had been sent back to Jerusalem. They challenged and warned the people to refocus and finish God’s temple that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon in 586 B.C. The new, much smaller temple was finished in 516 B.C.

© Dr. Rick Taylor

Zechariah

Author

Zechariah, the prophet, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, the priest.

Date

520 B.C. during the second year of the reign of Darius, the Mede. The Dead Sea Scrolls verify this dating.

Theme

God’s Promised Messiah

The promised Messiah is coming to build His Kingdom and restore unity; He will be rejected at first, but will come again to deliver eternally.

Additional Info

Zechariah’s name means “God remembers” and he was a contemporary of Haggai. They challenged and warned the people to refocus and finish God’s temple that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon in 586 B.C.

© Dr. Rick Taylor

Malachi

Author

Malachi, the prophet.

Date

Likely approx. 450-430 B.C. since the issues Malachi deals with are the same ones that Ezra and Nehemiah dealt with after their return from Babylon. The temple had already been rebuilt, so it takes place after 516 B.C.

Theme

God’s Condemning Discussion

This is a condemning discussion with the returned nation who has neglected God, then forecasts the forerunner of the Messiah.

Additional Info

Malachi’s name means “the messenger.” Nehemiah was sent back from Babylon in 444 B.C. to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and make it a viable city. After the wall was completed and order was established in Jerusalem, Nehemiah went back to Babylon. When he left, the religious practices and ethical lives of the people quickly deteriorated, and Nehemiah was again sent back to Jerusalem to deal with the people there. Malachi most likely prophesied during Nehemiah’s first leadership role in Jerusalem or during the time when Nehemiah went back to Babylon.

© Dr. Rick Taylor

Resources for Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi

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