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Ezra-Detailed Outline
A. The Return From Babylon
Ezra 1:1-4 The Decree of Cyrus
The Order to return to rebuild the house of God. Anyone who wished to return could do so.
Ezra 2 Those Who Returned
A (selective) list of the people who returned is given.
Ezra 2:1-2 Legitimization of people of Israel - continuity with God. Zerubbabel and Jeshua were the leaders.
Ezra 2:3-58 Laity, priests, Levites, temple servants were included.
Ezra 2:59-63 People who wanted to go but could not prove ancestry. Determination was made later.
Ezra 2:64-67 Total is given as 42,360 plus servants, singers, and animals.
Ezra 2:68-70 The people brought items for the temple, idealistic representation of the birth of the new community.
B. The Temple Building Begins
Ezra 3 The Altar and the Foundation
Ezra 3:1-6 Jeshua and Zerubbabel built an altar. While fearful of the people of the land they sacrificed burnt offerings in accordance with Feast of Tabernacles. Foundations of temple were not yet laid.
Ezra 3:7-13 Laying foundation of temple. Work was begun second month of second year after return to Jerusalem. Celebrations were held after foundations were laid. Priests and Levites played major role. Response of people was mixed. Older Israelites who remembered Solomon's temple wept in sorrow. Younger Israelites shouted for joy.
Ezra 4 Opposition to the Work…Suspension of Work on Temple
Ezra 4:1-5 Samaritans tried to get in on the action, were rebuffed. Israelites claimed Cyrus' decree applied only to them. Samaritans continued to harass Israelites. People of Israel were "disheartened" and stopped working on temple.
Ezra 4:6-23 A glimpse of future Samaritan tactics. Samaritans wrote several letters to the king complaining about inhabitants. Accused them of being rebellious and evil. Said they would not pay tax, tribute once Jerusalem was restored. Wanted to forewarn the king. King's response: he checked into it and agreed with them. Ordered the Samaritans to stop the building process. Apparently they did. Work on the temple ceased until the second year of Darius (ca 519BCE).
C. The Building Completed
Ezra 5:1-5 Work is Resumed
Prophets Haggai and Zechariah prophesied. Work was restarted.
Ezra 5:6-5:17 Tatnai’s Letter to Darius
Governor of Trans-Euphrates, Tatnai, questioned their actions. Work continued pending response from Darius. Governor sent letter to Darius. The letter reviewed exile and permission to return. Included names of builders. Asked Darius to check whether temple vessels were given back. Asked him to research whole permission issue. Wanted report sent back to Governor.
Ezra 6:1-6:12 Decrees of Cyrus and Darius
Ezra 6:1-5 Discovery of Cyrus' edict. Not only did Cyrus command the temple be rebuilt, but also funds were to come from royal treasury. Included comment that golden vessels "must" be returned to temple.
Ezra 6:6-12 Darius' reply to Governor. Told Governor to withdraw. He must not interfere in any way. In addition he was to provide the funds from his own treasury. He was also to give them adequate supplies for sacrifice. Included consequences for anyone interfering with edict.
Ezra 6:13-6:22 The Temple Finished
Ezra 6:13-15 Work on temple was completed. Governor carried out Darius' order. Temple was completed in the sixth year of Darius' reign.
Ezra 6:16-18 Dedication of Temple: Priests, Levites carried out sacrifices in accordance with Law of Moses.
Ezra 6:19-22 First Passover. Celebrated with all fanfare. Also celebrated Feast of Unleavened Bread.
D. Ezra's Journey to Jerusalem
Ezra 7:1-10 Ezra Introduced
Ezra's mission-Sent from Babylon, arrived in Jerusalem seventh year of the king. Mission: to study the law of the Lord, to practice it and to teach it.
Ezra 7:11-7:28 Letter of Artaxerxes to Ezra
Ezra 7:11-25 Artaxerxes' Letter Anyone was given leave to accompany Ezra. Ezra was to go to Jerusalem to see if people were living in accordance with the Law of God. He was to collect silver and gold from a variety of sources. Money was for animals for sacrifice. If they needed any other things, they could get money from the royal treasury". Everything demanded by the God of heaven must be provided." No tax should ever be imposed on priests, Levites, temple servants. Anyone who did not comply with these orders could face death or imprisonment.
Ezra 7:27-28 Ezra offered thanksgiving.
Ezra 8 The Journey to Jerusalem
Ezra 8:1-14 List of Heads of families who accompanied him. Twelve families are mentioned; perhaps reference to twelve tribes…symbolic "resettling" of Jerusalem.
Ezra 8:15-20 Temple personnel. Roughly 220 personnel went along to assist Levites, priests
Ezra 8:15-20 Temple personnel. Roughly 220 personnel went along to assist Levites, priests
Ezra 8:24-30 Description of treasure. 650 Talents = 24+ tons of gold and silver. Priests and Levites accepted responsibility for safe transport.
Ezra 8:31-36 Return to Jerusalem. God kept them safe on their journey. Weighed the talents shortly upon arrival…nothing was missing. Gave them to the priest. Shared the king's edict with surrounding governors.
Ezra 9-10 The Reforms of Ezra
Ezra 9 Tragic Report and Ezra’s Prayer
Ezra 9:1-5 Marriage involving foreigners. Leaders informed Ezra of practice of intermarrying. Ezra tore his clothes, sat down until evening sacrifice. People stood around in silence, trembling. At evening sacrifice, Ezra prostrated himself before God.
Ezra 9:6-15 Ezra's prayer. Ezra confessed guilt of the people (included himself). Realized God had graciously allowed them to return. Feared they had learned nothing in the process. Acknowledged "remnant" - purified group of Israel; had been given opportunity to return as a token of His grace and mercy. Feared that if remnant continued to sin, God would wipe them out, too.
Ezra 10:1-10:17 The Abandonment of Mixed Marriages
Ezra 10:1-6 Divorce of Foreign Women: Ezra prayed publicly as people gathered around him. People were fearful, wept bitterly. One of the leaders agreed with Ezra…Confession of sin of the people. If they removed the iniquity, God would forgive them. Women were to be sent away; the exiles were to be protected against further sins. Even children had to be sent away…renewal of the covenant. Leaders took an oath to fulfill covenant to end marriages.
Ezra 10:7-17 People called to Assembly. They had three days to gather, or lose property and standing in community. All the people gathered. Ezra addressed them: By marrying foreigners, they had committed treason and added to the guilt of Israel. Leaders said they could reform by separating themselves from the women (proposal had to come from leaders… Ezra was still outsider). Entire congregation agreed to do so. Each case was to be investigated, decision would be final. Whole purpose was to avoid the anger of God. Two men objected…not sure if they objected to proposal or to delay of its execution. Eventually people did accept; Ezra stayed in background.
Ezra 10:18-44 List of All Those With Foreign Wives. Even priests had married foreign wives, had to send them away. Sacrifices were offered…unintentional sins. Sin was serious; law of God must be kept.

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