Old Testament Biblical Backgrounds Israel After the Exile Maps by David P. Barrett, used by permission
By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down and wept, When we remembered Zion. 2 Upon the willows in the midst of it We hung our harps. (Psalm 137:1-2).
For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How can we sing the LORD’s song In a foreign land? (Psalm 137:3-4)
Medes Persians Babylon
Ezra 1:2-3 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.
Ezra 1:4 “Every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.” Cyrus the Great
“I am Cyrus, King of the World, Great King, Legitimate King, King of Babylon, King of Kiengir and Akkad, King of the four rims of the earth, Son of Cambyses, Great King, King of Achamaenes…”
“When I entered Babylon as a friend and when I established the seat of the government in the palace of the ruler under jubilation and rejoicing, Marduk, the great lord, induced the magnanimous inhabitants of Babylon to love me, and I was daily endeavoring to worship him...”
“… Ashur and Susa, Akkad, Eshnunna, the towns Zamban, Me-turnu, Der as well as the region of the Gutians, I returned to these sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries”
“I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their habitations.”
Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him, And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut (Isaiah 45:1).
“It is I who says of Cyrus,‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem,‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’” (Isaiah 44:28).
“For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me. (Isaiah 45:4).
Ezra 1:5-6 Then the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 6 And all those about them encouraged them with articles of silver, with gold, with goods, with cattle, and with valuables, aside from all that was given as a freewill offering.
Ezra 3:1 Now when the seventh month came, and the sons of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem.
Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brothers arose and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. (Ezra 3:2).
Ezra 3:8 Now in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak and the rest of their brothers the priests and the Levites, and all who came from the captivity to Jerusalem, began the work and appointed the Levites from twenty years and older to oversee the work of the house of the LORD.
Ezra 4:1-2 Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the people of the exile were building a temple to the LORD God of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ households, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we, like you, seek your God; and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.”
Ezra 4:3 But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and the rest of the heads of fathers’ households of Israel said to them, “You have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves will together build to the LORD God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us.”
Ezra 4:4-5 Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, 5 and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
The Temple Cyrus the Great Haggai & Zechariah prophesy and urge construction to begin again Cambyses Construction halted Permission given to rebuild
Ezra 5:1-2 When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them, 2 then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them.
The Temple Darius the Great Cyrus the Great Cambyses Construction halted Permission given to rebuild Permission given to complete
538-516 B.C. 1st Return under Zerubbabel & rebuilding Temple Events of Book of Esther Book of Esther 473 B.C. 2nd Return under Ezra 458-457 B.C. Ezra 1-6 Ezra 7-10 3rd Return under Nehemiah & rebuilding walls Book of Nehemiah 445-444 B.C.
Susa • Ancient capital of Elam • Winter palace of Darius • Traditional tomb of Daniel Susa Babylon
This palace which I built at Susa, from afar its ornamentation was brought. Downward the earth was dug, until I reached rock in the earth. When the excavation had been made, then rubble was packed down, some 40 cubits in depth, another part 20 cubits in depth. On that rubble the palace was constructed. Susa
And that the earth was dug downward, and that the rubble was packed down, and that the sun-dried brick was molded, the Babylonian people performed these tasks. Susa
The cedar timber, this was brought from a mountain named Lebanon. The Assyrian people brought it to Babylon; from Babylon the Carians and the Yaunâ [Greeks] brought it to Susa. Susa
Cast of Characters • Esther (also known as Hadassah). • Ahasuerus: Xerxes • Mordecai & Haman
1:1 – 2:18 Esther becomes queen Esther & Mordecai in the Persian Court 2:19-23 Mordecai saves the king’s life Esther acts to save her people • Esther throws a party • The King reads an edict • Esther reveals the plot 3:1-14 Haman plots against the Jews Trouble for the Jews 4:1 – 7:10 8:1 – 9:17 Jews allowed to defend themselves Victory for the Jews 9:18-32 Jews celebrate Esther & Mordecai in the Persian Court 10:1-3 Mordecai rewarded
Esther 9:24 For Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the adversary of all the Jews, had schemed against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to disturb them and destroy them.
Mordecai Haman From the tribe and family of Saul (Esther 2:5). A descendant of Agag (Esther 3:1), the king of the Amalekites whose life Saul spared in disobedience to the command of God. The enemy of the people of God The savior of the people of God
Points to Ponder • Esther is the book of God’s Providence • The Success of Haman’s plot would also exterminate the seed through which the Messiah would come • This book reminds us that God works in the lives of both the great and the small
Ezra Variations on a Name Azariah (“the Lord has helped”) Esdras (Greek form)
Ezra 7:1-5 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, there went up Ezra son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest.
Ezra 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon, and he was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given; and the king granted him all he requested because the hand of the LORD his God was upon him.
Ezra 7:9 For on the first of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, because the good hand of his God was upon him.
Ezra 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
Author Purpose Passage Ezra 1:2-4 Cyrus Permission for Jews to return and build temple Ezra 4:11-16 Rehun & Shimsha Report to the king against the Jews Ezra 4:17 Cambyses Order to halt temple construction Ezra 5:7-17 Tattenai Report to the king the Jews had resumed construction Ezra 6:1-12 Darius Permission to resume work Ezra 7:12-26 Artaxerxes Ezra given authority to lead group to Judah
Ezra 7:27-28 Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to adorn the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem, 28 and has extended loving-kindness to me before the king and his counselors and before all the king's mighty princes. Thus I was strengthen-ed according to the hand of the LORD my God upon me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.
Ezra 9 Ezra 10 The Problem: Intermarriage with the people of the land The Solution: Divorce those wives Prayer of repentance Proposal of divorce
Group Project Discuss the decision that was made to divorce the foreign wives: Was it right? Was it wrong?
Nehemiah 1 – 2:10 2:11 – 6 7 8 – 12 13 Nehemiah talks To God To the King
Nehemiah 2:1-2 And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 So the king said to me, “Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.” Then I was very much afraid.
Nehemiah 2:3-4 And I said to the king, “Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What would you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.
Nehemiah 2:5-6 And I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” 6 Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time.
Nehemiah 2:10 And when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel.
Nehemiah 2:11-12 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding.