About this Bible Study........The King James Version of the Bible is written in a beautiful form of the English language. It can be hard for modern English readers to understand. In this study, you will find notes and summaries in brown just above the the verses from the Bible. We recommend that you read the notes and summaries first, and then read the verses in their KJV form.
Map from Keyway.ca
The Persian Empire covered many areas. It included the modern-day countries of Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Turkey.
The Persian kings named in the Bible were Cyrus, Ahasruerus, Artaxerxes, and Darius.
The Book of Ezra
God allowed the people from Babylon to take the tribe of Judah, the Jews, away. They took them back to Babylon. The Jews lived in Babylon for about 70 years. Then, Cyrus became king of Persia (now called Iran). Persia defeated Babylon, and Cyrus said that the Jews could return to Jerusalem.
Ezra was a scribe (secretary, historian). He wrote down the history of the Jews going back to Jerusalem. He also led some of the Jews back to Jerusalem
Here is a good timeline to see the book of Ezra in the history of the Bible
|Hebrew, Israelite, Jew, Jewish
These words all have been used to describe the descendants of Abraham. Their exact meanings are sometimes not clear.
In Genesis, Abraham is called a Hebrew which means "descendant of Eber". Eber was the great grandson of Noah. Eber was Abraham's ancestor.
Abraham's son was Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob who had 12 sons. God changed Jacob's name to Israel. Then his sons, grandsons, and descendants were called Israelites.
One of Jacob's sons was named Judah. After the Israelites came to Canaan from Egypt, each son's family got land. Judah's family land later separated from the other lands. The people who lived in Judah were called Jews or Jewish.
Now in modern times, the words are still used. Israel is the of the country that used to be in the area of Canaan. Hebrew is the name of the language used in Israel. Jewish and Jew are commonly used for all of the people who are descendants of Abraham.
Ezra was a descendant of Moses' brother, Aaron. Ezra's father's name was Seraiah, his grandfather's name was Azariah, and his great grandfather's name was Hilkiah. His other ancestors were: Shallum, Zadok, Ahitub, Amariah, Azariah, Meraioth, Zerahiah, Uzzi, Bukki, Abishua, Phinehas, Eleazar, and Aaron.
 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,
 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,
 The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,
 The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,
 The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest:
Ezra was a scribe. He knew the laws that God gave to Moses. God was helping Ezra, and the king of Persia, Artaxerxes, gave him anything he wanted.
 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.
Many Jewish people went with Ezra. There were priests, Levites, singers, and temple workers. They went to Jerusalem. They left Babylon on the first day of the first month. They arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the 5th month. It was the 5th month of the year, and it was the 7th year that Artaxerxes was king of Persia.
 And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.
 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.
 For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.
Ezra had studied God's laws for a long time. He obeyed God's laws and taught the laws to other Jews.
|These were the months in the Jewish
 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
Ezra was a priest and a scribe. He wrote the words of God's laws and God's commandments. King Artaxerxes gave Ezra a letter. The letter was from Artaxerxes to Ezra the scribe of the laws of God of heaven.
 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel.
 Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.
The king said that any of the Jews, the priests, and Levites may leave and go to Jerusalem if they want to.
 I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.
The king and his 7 counselors were sending them back to Jerusalem. They want them to see if the Jews are obeying God's laws.
 Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellers, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which is in thine hand;
They should take the gold and silver that the king and his counselors are giving to God. They should also take all of the gold and silver they can find in Babylon. They should take the offerings of the people and priests in Babylon. They can take the gold, silver, and offerings to God's temple in Jerusalem. God's city is Jerusalem.
 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellers have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,
 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:
They should use the gold and silver to buy bulls, rams, and lambs for burnt offerings. They should also make meat and drink offerings on the altar of God's temple in Jerusalem.
 That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.
If there is silver and gold left, they can decide how to use it. They should use it to obey God's will.
 And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God.
There are things to use to worship God in the temple. They should give these things to God.
 The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, those deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.
If they need anything else for God's temple, they should get it out of the king's storage house.
 And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house.
The king made another order. He made the order to the people in charge of the money in places on the other side of the Euphrates River. He said that they should give Ezra anything that he asks for.
 And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,
They should give Ezra up to 100 talents of silver (7,500 pounds), 100 measures of wheat (600 bushels), 100 baths of wine (580 gallons), 100 baths of oil (580 gallons), and any amount of salt.
 Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.
They should give whatever God asks. They should give for God's temple. The king did not want God to be angry with him or his sons who would be king after him.
 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?
He also said that they should not charge the Jewish leaders tolls or taxes. They should not make these people pay: the priests, Levites, singers, or temple workers.
 Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.
The king said that Ezra should pick judges and leaders. He should pick them according to God's will. He should pick people who know the laws. If they don't know the laws, he should teach them.
 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not.
If anyone does not obey the laws of God and the laws of the king, he should be punished quickly. He should be punished in one of these ways: he should be killed, he should be sent away, his things should be taken, or he should to go prison.
 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
Ezra said that God was blessed because He touched the king's heart to make the temple beautiful again. God had mercy on Ezra. The king, the king's counselors, and the king's princes were good to him and helped him. Ezra felt stronger because he felt God's hand on him. God was helping him. Then Ezra picked out leaders of the Jews to go back to Judah with him.
 Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:
 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellers, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.
Pictures from FreeBibleIllustrations.com
|Picture from FreeBibleIllustrations.com|
Some of the Jewish leaders went to talk to Ezra. They told him that some of the Jews (including priests and Levites) are behaving badly. They are doing things the same as the other groups of people in that area. They are behaving the same as the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
 Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
Some of the Jewish men are marrying women who are not Jews. They are marrying people from the other groups of people. They are mixing Jewish heritage with people who are from other places. Some of the Jewish leaders are guilty of this.
 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.
Ezra was very upset when he heard about this. He tore off his clothes to show he was upset. He pulled the hair off his head and beard. He sat down and was astonished (very surprised and shocked).
 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.
Many of the Jews came to meet with him. The ones who came to meet with him were the ones who obeyed God's laws. They knew that God had sent the Jews out of Judah in the past. He sent them out because they sinned. Now they are sinning again. Ezra sat and felt shock until the time for the evening sacrifice.
 Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.
At the time of the evening sacrifice, Ezra kneeled and spread out his hands to the Lord God.
 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God.
Ezra prayed. He told God that he was ashamed to pray to Him because the Jews have sinned.
 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.
The Jews have sinned a lot in the past. That's why other kings and people have captured them.
 Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
God did not forget about the Jews. He helped them and showed grace and mercy to them. He did not destroy them. He made the kings of Persia help them. He let them come back to Jerusalem. He let them come back and build His temple again. They are now safe in Judah and Jerusalem.
 And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.
 For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
After God helped them again, the Jews did not obey God's laws. God's laws said that the other people in Judah were not clean. They worshiped false gods. The Jews were not allowed to marry people who were not Jews. God wanted the Jewish people to be strong, have good food to eat, and keep the land in their families forever.
 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments,
 Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.
 Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.
After everything God has done to help them, now the Jews are breaking His laws again. They are marrying people who worship false gods. God may decide to destroy all of the Jews so there is none left.
 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;
 Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?
God is righteous (very good). He has not destroyed the Jews. Now the Jews have sinned again.
 O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.
Ezra finished praying, crying, and
confessing the Jews' sin to God. Then a large crowd of Jews came to
him. The people were all crying.
 Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.
Shechaniah (his father's name was Jehiel and his ancestor was Elam) talked to Ezra. He said that the Jews have sinned against God. They married women who were not Jewish. But there is hope. He says they should make a promise to God. They will promise to divorce their wives. They will send them away. They will also send their children away (the children whose mothers were not Jewish).
 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing.
 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
He told Ezra that they will support him.
 Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.
Ezra asked the leaders of the priests, the Levites, and all of the Jews to swear (promise). They will divorce their wives and send away the children.
 Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.
Ezra left God's temple. He went to stay with Johanan (his father was Eliashib). While he was there, he did not eat or drink. He was very sad because of what the Jewish people had done.
 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away.
The Jewish people sent an order to all of the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem. They should all come to meet together in Jerusalem.
 And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem;
Anyone who did not come in 3 days would be punished. The leaders said they will take away all of the things he owns. He will not be part of the Jews anymore.
 And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away.
All of the men from Judah and the tribe of Benjamin's land met 3 days later in Jerusalem. It was the 20th day of the 9th month. It was raining hard, and they all sat in the street by God's temple. They were afraid and shaking.
 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.
Ezra stood up and talked to them. He told them that they sinned. It was a sin to marry women who were not Jewish. Now they should confess this sin to God. They should obey God's laws. They should stay separate from the other groups of people who live in Judah now. They should divorce their wives who are not Jewish.
 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.
 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.
The people agreed. They told Ezra loudly that
they would do what he said. But they said it would take a long time for
everyone to finish a divorce. They were all standing in the rain. They
wanted to set up a plan for the men who needed to divorce their wives. They
will take turns and meet with the leaders of their cities. After everyone is
divorced, they said God will not be angry with them anymore.
 Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.
 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.
 Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.
A few of the leaders were in charge of this. They were Jonathan (his father's name was Asahel) and Jazaziah (his father's name was Tikvah). Two other men, Meshullam and Shabbethai (a Levite) would help them.
 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.
The Jewish men did what they said they would do. On the 1st day of the 10th month, Ezra and some leaders of the families sat down to plan this. They wrote down the names of the men who were the leaders.
 And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.
By the 1st day of the 1st month, all of the men divorced their wives who were not Jewish.
 And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.
These were the men in the priests' families who had wives who were not Jewish. They were from the families of Jeshau (his father's name was Jozadak) and his brothers. The men were: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah. They promised to divorce their wives. They sacrificed a male sheep as a trespass offering to show God that they were sorry.
 And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah.
 And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their trespass.
These were the other men who married women who were not Jewish:
From the family of Immer:
Hanani and Zebadiah.
From the family of Harim: Maaseiah, Elijah, Shemaiah, Jehiel, and Uzziah.
From the family of Pashur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Isamael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elash.
From the Levites: Jozabad, Shimei, Kelaish (other name Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
 And of the sons of Immer; Hanani, and Zebadiah.
 And of the sons of Harim; Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah.
 And of the sons of Pashur; Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
 Also of the Levites; Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same is Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
From the singers: Eliashib
From the temple workers: Shallum, Telem, and Uri
 Of the singers also; Eliashib: and of the porters; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.
From the family of Parosh: Ramiah, Jeziah, Malchiah, Miamin, Eleazar, Malchijah, and Benaiah.
 Moreover of Israel: of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.
From the family of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, Jehiel, Abdi, Jeremoth, and Eliah.
From the family of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Jeremothr, Zabad, and Aziza.
From the family of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
From the family of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, Adaiah, Jashub, Sheal, and Ramoth.
From the family of Pahath-moab: Adna, Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, Binnui, and Manasseh.
 And of the sons of Elam; Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Eliah.
 And of the sons of Zattu; Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza.
 Of the sons also of Bebai; Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, and Athlai.
 And of the sons of Bani; Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth.
 And of the sons of Pahath-moab; Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, and Binnui, and Manasseh.
From the family of Harim: Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
 And of the sons of Harim; Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,
 Benjamin, Malluch, and Shemariah.
From the family of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Elliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
From the family of Bani: Maadai, Amram, Uel, Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh, Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, Mattaniah, Mattenai, Jaasau, Bani, Binnui, Shiemi, Shelemiah, Nathan, Adaiah, Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, Azareel, Shelemiah, Shemariah, Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
 Of the sons of Hashum; Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, and Shimei.
 Of the sons of Bani; Maadai, Amram, and Uel,
 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh,
 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,
 Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasau,
 And Bani, and Binnui, Shimei,
 And Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah,
 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,
 Azareel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah,
 Shallum, Amariah, and Joseph.
From the family of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, Joel, and Benaiah.
 Of the sons of Nebo; Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, and Joel, Benaiah.
All of these Jewish men had married women who were not Jewish. They had children with the women.
 All these had taken strange wives: and some of them had wives by whom they had children.