Ezra starts out with the decree from Cyrus II, king of Persia, that called for the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their Temple. The beginning of Ezra is identical to the end of
Jeremiah 29 foretold that the Jews would be in captivity for 70 years and 2 Chronicles 36 repeats this number. Cyrus' proclamation gives us insight on this prophecy. Nebuchadnezzar started taking people from Judah in 605 BC and the foundation of the second Temple was laid in 535, which is how some people count those 70 years. Others count from the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC until the completion of the Temple in 516 BC. Either way, the total of 70 years still holds.
Not only does Cyrus authorize the Jews to return and rebuild the Temple of God, he gives back items from the Temple that were stolen by Nebuchadnezzar. The returned items include 1030 charges (30 of the which were gold, 1000 were silver), 29 knives, and 440 basins (30 made of gold). In total, Cyrus returned 5400 items to Sheshbazzar, a prince of Judah.
References and Footnotes
- William MacDonald. Believer's Bible Commentary, pg. 473-474. 1995