Let’s have a look at Ezra the man, shall we? Most scholars give Ezra credit for writing the Book of Ezra, along with both the Chronicles and a couple other additions to the Bible (Nehemiah and one of the Psalms), but who was Ezra? Well, according the same scholars who decided he wrote a lot of stuff in the Bible, Ezra was a priest, a scribe and a man who devoted his entire life to serving God. And that’s about all we need to know apparently about Ezra. But while we don’t know a lot about Ezra, as far as what he did and who he was and how many grandbabies he might have had, we can tell a lot about him from his writings: he was dedicated and passionate in preserving history, and he was imaginative yet accurate in retelling many stories. And through that deduction, you might be able to imagine Ezra being like someone you know with similar traits. I don’t know if that helps you, but sometimes picturing the authors of books and short stories and knowing a little about their backgrounds helps me to understand their writing better. To me, it’s a lot like staring at a work of art. Oftentimes, I can look at a piece of artwork worth millions of dollars and wonder why on earth anyone would choose to hang it on their wall over my framed fish drawing my daughter wowed me with when she was in first grade. I just don’t get some art piece’s values. But if someone explained to me that the painter created the piece during wartime when supplies were limited and he was hiding in a basement closet, then I see that painting in a whole new light. And while in my heart it’s still not worth more than my fish drawing, I do get now why someone might pay a million dollars for it.
So, back to Ezra … and reading Ezra. If you read through 1 and 2 Chronicles with us, then you’ll know kind of how the book of Ezra is going to flow – with lots of facts and good stories weaved in. I hope knowing a little bit more about the writer will make you a little more curious about the facts parts, which I know can be a bit hard to read through sometimes.
And last but certainly not least, let’s do a quick recap of what is taking place here because it’s grand, guys, just grand. After 70 years of living in captivity in Babylon, the people who are left from those whom were banished from Jerusalem 70 years prior, have now been given permission to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple. Only they didn’t reeeeeally get permission, or did they? To me, it seemed more like a subtle request. In the last chapter, King Cyrus of Persia says that the Lord spoke to him and tasked him with letting the people go and rebuilding the Temple, so the king announced that any Israelites who wished “may” go back and help rebuild the Temple. But seriously, if you were in that group of people, would you feel you had a choice? Now, hear me out before you start shouting out all the whyfors and whynots. Of course, there were many, many people of the almost 50,000 people who did return who seriously were shouting hallelujah when King Cyrus made the announcement. But remember, this is 70 years down the line from when these people first entered the land. And they were in Babylon. And kids will be kids, know what I’m sayin’? A lot of this younger generation didn’t know what the hanaynay was going on. And I’ll betcha, some of them were like, “I like my home in Babylon just fine, thanks.” Plus, look what they had to take back and get started with – a wagonful of bowls and incense burners and some pocket change. That’s not a very impressive amount of materials to start a project that spurred the migration of 50,000 people. BUT don’t you dare for one second think that there wasn’t plenty of excitement happening alongside those naysayers. As we read through the Book of Ezra together, let’s try to keep all the feelz in mind.
Writing prompt: where for art thou
Write about how the Israelites may have been feeling when King Cyrus announced that they could go back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.