If you’re a bit confused about what went on between chapters 6 and 7, welcome to the club. Even scholars don’t quite get it, and I had to read a few footnotes to figure out why we went from talking about the Israelites returning to Jerusalem and celebrating the Passover and reestablishing God’s presence to wham! a profile of Ezra, who I was super curious about anyway, so I was glad to read it. However, did you notice not only a complete change of topic but a change in tone as well? Most scholars give Ezra credit for writing the Book of Ezra, but who writes about themselves in third person? Only weirdos. Jk. Kind of. If I were studying this book and had never read anything at all about Ezra, I would deduce that maybe he died and someone found his unfinished text and finished it … in a sort of tribute to Ezra himself. It’s endearing, and I don’t know if a bit of it is true, but IF I could submit my theory without getting rocks thrown at me, in say a place like an online writing course or something, I’d like to do that.
So, when I started reading, I thought maybe this chapter jumped back in time because we read about King Artaxerxes in Chapter 4, when the Israelites who were in Jerusalem started rebuilding the temple, so when I saw this King Artaxerxes, I just thought, “Hmmm, where are we at in history now?” According to my footnotes, this King Artaxerxes is different than the other King Artaxerxes. And we wonder how history gets completely messed up. Anyway, they’re different guys, and this chapter, according to my NLT footnotes, takes place nearly 60 years after the Temple’s restoration. It doesn’t elaborate on why Ezra was in Babylon so long after the Temple was built, but it does say he most likely was a prominent dude in the king’s court and that he spent his life devoted to learning about the Lord and recording the events of the Israelite community. The most revealing thing we learn about Ezra, however, is that he is a direct descendent of Aaron, Moses’ brother, who I kind of look at as the OG Levite, or the first priest of priests.
And finally, my footnotes are adamant in saying that Ezra wrote the remainder of this book, and that he wrote it in first person. Here’s my footnote on verse 7:28: “The speaker here is Ezra. He writes in the first person for the remainder of the book.” Now, I can believe that Ezra may have written that last paragraph and that whoever wrote the first part of this chapter found it and included it, but I’m still scratching my head thinking about why Ezra might write four chapters about himself in third person.
Writing prompt: be the third person
Write at least four chapters (they don’t have to be long) about yourself in third person. Then write about how it felt to write about yourself in third person.