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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Old Testament Survey Course | Discussion Question | Ezra/Nehemiah

What is the purpose of Ezra/Nehemiah? 

Why does the author see in these writings the fulfillment of God's faithfulness to the Covenant? What documents were used in its compilation? Assigned to: Group 8


The Chronicler (likely Ezra) ends 2 Chronicles with the same phrases in which he begins Ezra-Nehemiah, verbatim, making it clear that he is continuing his tale.[1] The approach of the Chronicler is in the same fashion as that of Luke, compiling various sources to lead to a theological statement.[2] The book(s) contain memoirs from Ezra and Nehemiah, with the narratives about Sheshbazzar/Zerubbabel as a prologue or introduction.[3] The author also appears to have had access to the royal archives, citing in specific the various decrees from kings Cyrus and Darius; as well as a letter from Artaxerxes.[4] The temple building is delayed, leading to famine and setbacks. The prophet Haggai raises up to get things moving again.[5]

The theological punch of the book(s) is directed at spiritual revival, returning to God’s way of doing things.[6] The rebuilding of the Temple indicates a rebuilding of dedication to God, led primarily by Ezra, an expert in God’s words.[7] The rebuilding of the wall was led by Nehemiah, a trusted official and cup-bearer to the king; and the message seems to be that as God is bringing his people back, and they are turning to him, he is rebuilding their protective hedge.[8] Nehemiah goes so far in purging the land of impurity that when he found people intermarrying with children who no longer spoke Hebrew, he “struck some of them and pulled out their hair”.[9] Nehemiah and Ezra then work together as co-reformers to dedicate the land to God.[10] Nehemiah sums up his intentions at the end of his memoir, saying “Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan.”[11]

After Babylonian exile had nearly eliminated the individuality of Israel as a people-group, the edicts of the Medo-Persian kings Cryus, Darius, and Artaxerxes served together with the work of Ezra and Nehemiah to create a “separateness” of the covenant people of YHWH.[12] In preserving the history of Israel in graphic detail (1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah); the Chronicler preserves the concept that YHWH is the ultimate ruler of global events and will remain loyal to his people throughout time and space.[13]


[1] The Lexham English Bible (LEB), Fourth Edition, Logo Bible Software, Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.) (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2010), (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4),

[2] Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 3rd ed (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Publishing House, 2009), 332.

[3] Hill and Walton, 332.

[4] Hill and Walton, 333.

[5] The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study BIBLE: Key Insights Into God’s Word. New King James (NKJV) (Includes Key Word Commentaries) (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, n.d.), Haggai 1; Dr. Eugene Saunders, “Old Testament Survey (BIBL1305)” (Coursework, The King’s University, Southlake Texas, 2021), 4.1 Lecture week Four part One.

[6] Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 337.

[7] LEB, Ezra 7:6 “this Ezra... was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses...”

[8] LEB, Nehemiah 1; 7:1-5; Job 1:10.

[9] LEB, Nehemiah 13:25.

[10] LEB, Nehemiah 8.

[11] Key Word Study Bible NKJV, Nehemiah 13:30.

[12] Hill and Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 338.

[13] Hill and Walton, 336–38.


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

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