Ezra-Nehemiah Old Testament – 2022 Lesson 30 July 18-24

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This is a commentary on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah—the text for Lesson 30 “I Am Doing a Great Work” in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families manual for 2022.

Ezra and Nehemiah are historical books that pick up the narrative of the exiled nation of Judah where 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings left off—the period from the fall of Babylon in 539 BC to around 450-425 BC.  Jerusalem had been conquered and the city, temple, and its walls destroyed by the Neo-Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar. The temple had been burned and leveled and most of the people had been killed, died of starvation, deported as slaves into Babylon, or fled as refugees to Egypt or other nations in the Near East. Most of those left alive were slaves in Babylon some thousand kilometres (600 miles) to the east of Judæa. About seventy years had passed from those events as these two books pick up the story. It is likely that Ezra wrote part of both books. There is also a large portion of Nehemiah that was clearly written by him as a memoire of his life and accomplishments. He’s pretty well the only “Nephi” in the Old Testament—one who writes his own story without its being filtered through an editor. 

These books tell of the successive returns to Jerusalem of three men: Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and their efforts to restore the temple, Jewish worship, the city of Jerusalem, and to create a purified Jewish community.  Politics has a large role to play in the motives of the principal characters and in how the story plays out and we’ll talk a bit about Persian empire politics. 
 
There’s also considerable help for your future appearance(s) on Jeopardy—there are many little details that will help you win—“I’ll take Persian emperors’ mental health challenges for $400, please; or,  I’ll take troy weight precious metals for $1000, please.” It will also help in pub quizzes if you’re travelling this summer.  There are also pictures, charts, and timelines that will be helpful.  

pp.52

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