The book of Ezra shows Yahweh’s faithfulness and emphasizes the loyalty he rightfully deserves. The narrative begins with the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy: After 70 years of exile in Babylon, the Jewish people would return to their homeland (Jer 25:11–12; 29:10–14; Ezra 1:1). Upon their return, the people began rebuilding the Jerusalem temple—the symbol of God’s presence among them. The book of Ezra depicts the difficulties of rebuilding a community based on faithfulness to Yahweh.
—Faithlife Study Bible, Lexham Press
Best Commentaries on Ezra
H. G. M. Williamson, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), Thomas Nelson, 1985, 472 pp.
Based on years of intensive study and research, this commentary provides competent guidance to the complexities of Ezra and Nehemiah. The author gives special attention to the perplexing problems associated with their form, structure, and literary history. Supporting the view that much of this material is from the fifth century BC, just as it claims to be, he concludes that “there is good reason to approach Ezra and Nehemiah as two parts of single work and that this work is to be regarded as complete as it stands.” Williamson also focuses on sections of these books commonly referred to as the “Ezra Memoir” and the “Nehemiah Memoir.” He notes the specifically theological purpose of such sections in which the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple are defended against the enemies, and the leaders of Israel plead for recognition of their faithfulness to the commission given them by God through the Persian kings.
- Level: Advanced
- Type: Technical
F. Charles Fensham, New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT), Eerdmans, 1982, 301 pp.
A biblical scholar well known for his expertise in ancient Near Eastern studies, especially Ugaritic, Fensham places Ezra and Nehemiah against the ancient Near Eastern environment. In his introduction, Fensham discusses the original unity of the books as well as the problems of authorship. He then treats the historical and religious background of the books, taking special note of the development of a Jewish religious society in postexilic times. Text and language are examined next, followed by a thorough bibliography.
- Level: Intermediate
- Type: Expository
Derek Kidner, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (TOTC), InterVarsity Press, 1979, 192 pp.
"The chequered story of the Kings, a matter of nearly five centuries, had ended disastrously in 587 BC with the sack of Jerusalem, the fall of the monarchy, and the removal to Babylonia of all that made Judah politically viable. It was a death to make way for a rebirth." So begins Derek Kidner's commentary on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which chart the Jews' return from exile to Jerusalem and the beginnings of that rebirth. As the drama unfolds, above all and through all we see the good hand of God at work.
- Level: Basic
- Type: Devotional
Mervin Breneman, New American Commentary (NAC), B&H, 1993, 370 pp.
Mervin Breneman focuses on the intrinsic theological and exegetical concerns of Ezra and engages the range of issues raised in contemporary biblical scholarship.
- Level: Intermediate
- Type: Expository
J. Gordon McConville, Daily Study Bible (DSB), Westminster John Knox, 1985, 212 pp.
The complete Daily Study Bible–Old Testament follows the brilliant pattern of William Barclay's popular Daily Study Bible—New Testament. Written by accomplished interpreters of the OT, these volumes combine the depth of scholarship, the critical style, and the grace that characterized Barclay's writing.
- Level: Basic
- Type: Devotional
Best Books on Ezra
Based on years of rigorous research and study, this guide provides insightful guidance into the complexities of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The author gives special attention to the difficult scholarly challenges associated with their form, structure, and literary history.Learn more
Concisely examining the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, A. H. Sayce draws upon biblical and non-biblical sources to offer contexualized studies for in-depth clarification and elucidation.Learn more
Donald Moffat aims to provide further insight into the mixed marriage narrative by exposing the social and cultural factors on which it is based. He also identifies historical traces in the narrative that can contribute to a historical reconstruction of the post-exilic era. The socio-cultural analysis highlights previously unobserved aspects of the narrative, as it understands that the narrative reflects a context in which identity formation issues were prominent in Persian Yehud.Learn more
The study of Ezra–Nehemiah has been revolutionized in recent years by a growing rejection of the long-established belief that it was composed as part of the Chronicler’s work. That shift in scholarly paradigms has reopened many questions of origin and purpose, and this thesis attempts to establish an answer to the most important of these: the question of authorship.Learn more
Most studies of how early Judaism related to the non-Jewish world and how others perceived it start no earlier than the Hellenistic period. Joseph Blenkinsopp argues that we must go further back to the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and its temple and the liquidation of the political and religious infrastructure—monarchy, priesthood, scribalism, prophecy—that had sustained the Judean state for centuries. Judaism, the First Phase is a fresh—and potentially stunning—look at Jewish origins, tracing the legacy of Ezra and Nehemiah.Learn more
Best Courses on Ezra
Mobile Ed: BI205 Old Testament Exegesis: Understanding and Applying the Old Testament (15 hour course)
Embark on a journey of Old Testament Hebrew exegesis with Jason DeRouchie. The books of the Old Testament were the only Scriptures Jesus had. It was books like Genesis, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and Psalms that shaped Jesus’ upbringing and that guided his life in ministry as the Jewish Messiah. It was these Scriptures that Jesus identified as God’s Word and that he considered to be authoritative; it was these Scriptures he believed called people to know and believe in God and guarded them against doctrinal error and hell. This course will give you the tools you need to access meaning in the Old Testament, then apply it to your life. It will help you to grow in reading God’s living Word for depth and not just distance.Learn more
Join David W. Baker on a whirlwind tour to explore the Old Testament from many different angles and how it relates to ancient Near Eastern literature. From creation accounts and stories of destruction to Wisdom Literature, discover different biblical literary genres that have parallels in ancient Near Eastern literature. Explore extrabiblical historical texts that mention key events and figures from the Old Testament. Understand how Israel fits into and is impacted by its ancient Near Eastern environment but also how it is separate and unique, mainly on a theological level but also by its distinct worldview.Learn more
In an age of international travel and migration, we’re familiar with people who look, sound, eat, and believe differently than we do. To become friends, it’s helpful to understand where they come from and how they do things differently, or the same, as we do. In the same way it is necessary to understand someone who comes from a different place than we do, how much more necessary is it to understand someone who is from not only a different geographical place but also a different time than we are? The Old Testament starts at the beginning of the world. This course will undertake the task of crossing the bridges of geography, climate, time, and a landscape unknown to us: ancient Israel. Throughout the course, David W. Baker will address aspects of life from our own culture and time, as well as family structure and societal systems from ancient Israelite life. As you learn more about the social world of the Old Testament, you will be struck not only by our differences but also our common humanity and that we share the same dreams, hopes, and fears as they did.Learn more
In this course, ancient-language expert Dr. Michael Heiser gives a thorough background of the Hebrew Bible’s writing, composition, canonicity, and transmission through the ages. This course also surveys text criticism—what are Hebrew scholars today doing with these ancient manuscripts? How does their work affect English translations of the Bible? By understanding criticism, your personal Bible study will be richer, even with little knowledge of the Hebrew language.Learn more