Category: A group of biblical books that have a similar literary genre or main themes and have been placed together as a major section of the Bible.
Historical: The narrative books of the Old Testament that recount Israel’s rise and fall in the land of Canaan, leading to their exile in Babylon.
Literary Style: A unique style of writing that follows recognized literary conventions and language patterns.
Narrative: A story sequence in which characters are placed in a setting and involved in a developing plotline.
Epic Narrative: A narrative that is intentionally placed in an ambiguous historical setting in order to make larger claims about the nature of reality and human purpose.
Many Israelites return to Jerusalem after the exile, and face some success alongside many spiritual and moral failures.
Watch our Read Scripture video on the books Ezra & Nehemiah (originally one scroll), which breaks down the literary design of the books and their flow of thought. There is one Read Scripture video dedicated to Ezra-Nehemiah, which aims to help you see its unique contribution to the story of Jesus, but also how it works within the Bible’s overall framework.
Originally written together as a single book in the Jewish Scriptures, Ezra and Nehemiah document the fulfillment of God's promise that Israel will return home after 70 years of exile in Babylon and restore their ruined dwellings again. Zerubbabel and Nehemiah both play a part in restoring God's Temple, while Zerubbabel takes charge over governing affairs, and Nehemiah rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem.
Ezra, a descendant of Aaron, arrives in Jerusalem later and instills God's laws to the post-Exile Jewish generation. Note how the people received revelation and responded after they listened to the Word of God that was being taught to them. This response is remarkably similar to Jesus' teachings about God's Kingdom centuries later, and His often-repeated phrase, "He who has an ear, let him hear..." The takeaway? Whether it's ancient Israel or our worship today, we all must receive a new heart from God and listen to Him.
Return from Exile
Fulfilling Jeremiah's prophecy, Persian King Cyrus allows the exiled Jews to return home. Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, and later Ezra travel to Jerusalem. Rebuilding Israel begins.
Despite local opposition, Zerubbabel and the Jews successfully rebuild the Altar and God's Temple. They officially celebrate the Passover the first time in 70 years.
Truth is revealed to the new Jewish generation as Ezra and Nehemiah teach them the Torah. Ezra and Nehemiah reform their community to practice holiness.
Rebuilding of the Wall
Persian King Artaxerxes allowed Nehemiah to return Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. Nehemiah trusts in God, the construction is completed, dedicated, and the Jews corporately praise God.
After hearing the Torah, the Jewish people realize the sins they committed and immediately address them. They repent, swearing an oath to follow God's laws.