Ezra, Book of [ebd]
This book is the record of events occurring at the close of the Babylonian exile. It was at one time included in Nehemiah, the Jews regarding them as one volume. The two are still distinguished in the Vulgate version as I. and II. Esdras. It consists of two principal divisions:
(1.) The history of the first return of exiles, in the first year of Cyrus (B.C. 536), till the completion and dedication of the new temple, in the sixth year of Darius Hystapes (B.C. 515), ch. 1-6. From the close of the sixth to the opening of the seventh chapter there is a blank in the history of about sixty years.
(2.) The history of the second return under Ezra, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and of the events that took place at Jerusalem after Ezra's arrival there (7-10).
The book thus contains memorabilia connected with the Jews, from the decree of Cyrus (B.C. 536) to the reformation by Ezra (B.C. 456), extending over a period of about eighty years.
There is no quotation from this book in the New Testament, but there never has been any doubt about its being canonical. Ezra was probably the author of this book, at least of the greater part of it (comp. 7:27, 28; 8:1, etc.), as he was also of the Books of Chronicles, the close of which forms the opening passage of Ezra.
EZRA, BOOK OF [smith]
is a continuation of the books of Chronicles. The period covered by the book is eighty years, from the first of Cyrus, B.C. 536, to the beginning of the eighth of Artaxerxes, B.C. 456. It consist of the contemporary historical journals kept from time to time, containing, chs. 1-12, and account of the return of the captives under Zerubbabel, and the rebuilding of the temple in the reign of Cyrus and Cambyses. Most of the book is written in Hebrew, but from chs. 4:8 to 6:19 it is written in Chaldee. The last four chapters, beginning with ch. 7, continue the history after a gap of fifty-eight years --from the sixth of Darius to the seventh of Artaxerxes-- narrating his visit to Jerusalem, and giving an account of the reforms there accomplished, referred to under EZRA
. Much of the book was written by Ezra himself, though the first chapter was probably written by Daniel; and other hands are evident.