THERE IS A TIME PERIOD OF 58 YEARS BETWEEN EZRA 6 AND 7. THE STORY OF ESTHER ALSO TAKES PLACE AT THIS TIME AND THIS IS WELL AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THE TEMPLE IN 515 B.C. THE PURPOSE OF THESE FINAL CHAPTERS OF EZRA IS TO FINALLY INTRODUCE THE NAMESAKE OF THIS BOOK: EZRA HIMSELF. SO NOTICE SOMETHING IMPORTANT: WHILE EZRA IS ALMOST ALWAYS SPOKEN OF AS BEING PIVOTAL IN THE BUILDING OF THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE, IN FACT HE CAME TO JUDAH LONG AFTER IT WAS COMPLETED AND IN OPERATION.
THE TEMPLE WAS COMPLETED AROUND 35 OR 40 YEARS BEFORE THE TIME OF ESTHER. AND EZRA CAME TO JERUSALEM ABOUT 20 YEARS AFTER THE STORY OF ESTHER AND MORDECAI SAVING THE PERSIAN JEWS FROM GENOCIDE AT THE HANDS OF THE EVIL HAMAN. DARIUS WAS THE KING WHEN THE TEMPLE WAS COMPLETED - XERXES WAS THE KING AT THE TIME OF ESTHER - AND NOW XERXES’ SON ARTAXERXES IS THE KING WHEN EZRA MIGRATES TO JUDAH. SO A LOT OF TIME HAS PASSED SINCE THE TEMPLE WAS BUILT AND PUT BACK INTO OPERATION, ALOT HAS GONE ON IN THE PERSIAN EMPIRE, AND THERE’S BEEN PLENTY OF TIME FOR THE PASSION FOR PURITY IN WORSHIP AND LIFESTYLE OF THE JEWS IN JUDAH TO DETERIORATE - AND IT HAS!
SO DESPITE WHAT WE'VE THOUGHT, THE REAL PURPOSE FOR EZRA COMING TO JUDAH HAS NITHING TO DO WITH BUILDING THE TEMPLE. RATHER EZRA IS THE LEADER OF A REFORM-MOVEMENT TO REVIVE THE PROPER BEHAVIOUR OF YAHUAH'S WORD, THE PROPER OBSERVANCE OF PRIESTLY SERVICE IN THE TEMPLE, AND THE PROPER OBEDIENCE OF PRIESTS AND COMMONERS TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF YAHUAH INSTEAD OF TO THE MANY MAN-MADE DOCTRINES OF CONVENIENCE AND TOLERANCE THAT HAD GROWN UP IN JUDAH AS AN ACCOMMODATION TO THE GENTILES WHO LIVED IN AND AROUND JUDAH, AND TO THEIR PERSIAN GOVERNMENT . . . MAINLY JUDAISM & THE SYNAGOGUE!!
1After these things (58 YEARS LATER) during the rule of King Artaxerxes of Persia, Ezra came to Jerusalem from Babylon. Ezra was the son of Seraiah. Seraiah was the son of Azariah. Azariah was the son of Hilkiah. 2Hilkiah was the son of Shallum. Shallum was the son of Zadok. Zadok (HIGH PRIEST AT THE TIME OF KING DAVID) was the son of Ahitub. 3Ahitub was the son of Amariah. Amariah was the son of Azariah. Azariah was the son of Meraioth. 4Meraioth was the son of Zerahiah. Zerahiah was the son of Uzzi. Uzzi was the son of Bukki. 5Bukki was the son of Abishua. Abishua was the son of Phinehas. Phinehas was the son of Eleazar. Eleazar was the son of Aaron the High Priest.
THE POINT HERE IS TO SHOW US THAT EZRA IS A LEGITIMATE PRIEST, FOR ONLY AARON’S SON ELEAZAR REPRESENTS THE PRIESTLY LINE - HIS OTHER SONS PRODUCED WHAT THE SCRIPTURE CALLS LEVITES, WHO ARE NOT-PRIESTS PER'SE BUT QUALIFIED TO BE TEMPLE'S 'BLUE-COLLAR WORKERS'.
6Ezra came to Jerusalem from Babylon. He was a Teacher (A SCRIBE: ONE WHO MADE COPIES OF SCROLLS AND ALSO STUDIED THEM) and he knew the Law of Moses very well, for it was given by YAHUAH, the Alahim of Israel. King Artaxerxes gave Ezra everything he asked for because YAHUAH was with Ezra.
7Among the people who came with Ezra were Israelites, Priests, Levites, Singers, Gatekeepers, and Temple servants. They arrived in Jerusalem during the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. 8Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year that Artaxerxes was King (JULY–AUG 458 B.C). 9Ezra left Babylon on the first day of the first month and arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. With YAHUAH’S good blessings his trip went very well. 10For Ezra had always prepared his heart and given his time and attention to seeking the Instructions of YAHUAH by studying and obeying His laws, and to do it (BEHAVE IT) and to teach it to others.
HISTORY TELLS US THAT THIS WAS QUITE A DANGEROUS TIME IN THIS PART OF THE EMPIRE. EGYPT WAS IN FULL REBELLION AGAINST ARTAXERXES AND THE HIGHWAYS WERE RISKY TO TRAVEL ON. THIS IS WHY WE HEAR THAT YAHUAH’S GOOD HAND WAS UPON HIM - EZRA MADE IT TO JUDAH SAFELY WHEN HE EASILY COULD HAVE BEEN ATTACKED BY REBELS ALONG THE WAY. EZRA’S TRIP WENT VERY WELL AND HE WAS PROTECTED BECAUSE HE CHOSE TO PREPARE HIS HEART, BEHAVE AND SEEK YAHUAH!
“YAHUAH HAS HELPED” IS WHAT EZRA'S NAME MEANS AND HE REPRESENTS A CRITICAL TRANSITIONAL FIGURE IN THE PROGRESS OF JUDAH, (JUST LIKE SAMUEL). REMEMBER SAMUEL WAS A ONE-OF-A-KIND HYBRID-PROPHET, PRIEST AND JUDGE WHO USHERED IN THE ERA OF THE KINGS BY ANOINTING SAUL AND KING DAVID.
WHEN EZRA RETURNED IT WAS WELL AFTER ESTHER’S ERA, THE PEOPLE WHO HAD RETURNED TO JUDAH HAD LITTLE IDEA OF WHAT WAS CONTAINED IN YAHUAH’S WORD (EVEN THOUGH THE TEMPLE HAD BEEN IN OPERATION FOR ALMOST 60 YEARS), AND THE PRIESTHOOD WAS FUNCTIONING IN SOME VAGUE FASHION. REGARDING A CORRECT SCRIPTURAL LIFESTYLE - THE NOTION THAT HAD BEEN BROUGHT BACK WITH THE JEWS FROM THEIR EXILE WAS THAT THEY HAD THE LATITUDE TO MAKE-IT-UP-AS-THEY-GO AND IT HAD BECOME A PERMANENT PART OF JEWISH SOCIETY - THEY WERE MIXING YAHUAH'S WORD WITH SUN-WORSHIP AND TRADITION, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS THE PRIESTS WHOSE YAHUAH-GIVEN DUTY WAS TO TEACH THE PEOPLE HIS WORDS. SO EVEN THOUGH THE TEMPLE WAS BUILT - THE BEHAVIOUR OF WORSHIP WAS NUTS!
BUT IN THE PERSON OF EZRA WE HAVE A NON-PRACTICING PRIEST WHOSE CHOSEN AMBITION BECAME DEVOTION TO SCRIPTURE STUDY AND YAHUAH'S DIVINE LAWS. SO WE FIND THE BEGINNINGS OF AN OFFICE OR CLASS OF PEOPLE WHO HAD RELIGIOUS AUTHORITY, BUT WHO WERE NOT ATTACHED TO THE TEMPLE AS SERVING PRIESTS, YET SOMEHOW THEY BECAME THE SUPREME AUTHORITIES AND TEACHERS OF YAHUAH’S WORD AND OF HIS LAW.
IN YAHUSHA’S DAY WE HEAR OF THE SCRIBES AND THE PHARISEES AND THE TEACHERS WHO WERE THE 'ACCEPTED AUTHORITIES OF JUDAISM' WHEN IT CAME TO KNOWLEDGE OF THE LAW AND OF THE SCRIPTURES IN GENERAL. BUT AS JUDAISM PROGRESSED, AND IT BECAME MORE AND MORE TRADITION-BASED AND LESS AND LESS SET-APART SCRIPTURE-BASED, WE SEE THE EMERGENCE OF THE RABBIS. AND WHILE EVEN TODAY THE RABBIS REFER TO THEMSELVES AS TORAH-TEACHERS, AND THEIR DISCIPLES AS TORAH-STUDENTS, IN FACT THEY ARE NOT USUALLY STUDYING SCRIPTURE MUCH AT ALL, BUT INSTEAD STUDYING AND BEHOLDEN TO THE TALMUD AND TO HALAKAH (THE RABBINICAL ORAL LAWS OF TRADITIONAL JUDAISM).
SO EZRA WAS A WISE AND SKILLED EXPERT IN THE LAW OF MOSES, HE OPERATED OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICIAL PRIESTHOOD, AND HE APPARENTLY LIVED IN THE CITY OF BABEL WHERE THERE WAS A GREAT CONCENTRATION OF JEWS WHO HAD CHOSEN TO REMAIN IN BABYLON AND NOT MIGRATE TO THEIR HOMELAND OF JUDAH.
11This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the Priest and Teacher:
12From King Artaxerxes, to Ezra the Priest, a Teacher of the law of the Alahim of Heaven:
13I give this order: Any of the Israelites living in my Kingdom, including Priests and Levites, who want to go with you to Jerusalem, may go. 14I and my seven advisors send you to Judah and Jerusalem. Go and see how your people are doing in obeying the law of your Alahim. You have that law with you.
15I and my advisors are giving gold and silver to the Alahim of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. You must take this gold and silver with you. 16You must also go through all the provinces of Babylonia. Collect the gifts from your people, from the Priests, and from the Levites. The gifts are for the Temple of their Alahim in Jerusalem.
17Use this money to buy bulls, rams, and male lambs. Buy the grain offerings and drink offerings that go with these sacrifices. Then sacrifice them on the altar in the Temple of your Alahim in Jerusalem. 18Then you and the other Jews may spend the silver and gold left over any way you want to. Use it in a way that is pleasing to your Alahim. 19Take all these things to the Alahim of Jerusalem. They are for the worship in the Temple of your Alahim. 20And you may get any other things that you need for the Temple of your Alahim. Use the money in the King’s treasury to buy anything you need.
21Now I, King Artaxerxes, give this order: I order all the men who keep the King’s money in the area west of the Euphrates River to give Ezra anything he wants. Ezra is a Priest and a Teacher of the Law of the Alahim of Heaven. Do this quickly and completely. 22Give this much to Ezra: 3450kg of silver, 22,000L of wheat, 2200L of wine, 2200L of olive oil, and as much salt as Ezra wants. 23Anything that the Alahim of Heaven has ordered for Ezra to get, you must give to Ezra quickly and completely. Do this for the Temple of the Alahim of Heaven, for we don’t want Him to be angry with my Kingdom or my sons.
24I want you men to know that it is against the Law to make the Priests, Levites, Singers, Gatekeepers, Temple servants, and other workers in Alahim’s Temple pay taxes. They don’t have to pay taxes, money to honour the King, or any customs fees. 25Ezra, I give you the authority to use the wisdom you have from your Alahim and choose civil and spiritual judges. These men will be judges for all the people living in the area west of the Euphrates River. They will judge all the people who know the laws of your Alahim and they will teach those who don’t know those laws. 26Anyone who does not obey the law of your Alahim, or the law of the King, must be punished. Depending on the crime, they must be punished with death, or sent away to another country, or their property taken away, or put into prison.
27Blessed is YAHUAH, the Alahim of our ancestors. He put the idea into the King’s heart to honour YAHUAH’S Temple in Jerusalem. 28YAHUAH showed his trustworthy love to me in front of the King, his advisors, and the King’s important officials. YAHUAHmy Alahim was with me, and that gave me courage. So I gathered together the leaders of Israel to go with me to Jerusalem.
THE FIRST ISSUE DEALT WITH REGARDING THE TEMPLE (SIMPLY GETTING IT BUILT), WAS FINALLY ACCOMPLISHED BUT IT WAS ONLY BECAUSE YAHUAH SENT TWO PROPHETS (HAGGAI AND ZECHARIAH) TO GOAD THE RELUCTANT JEWS INTO IGNORING THE OUTSIDE POLITICAL PRESSURES AND THREATS FROM NEARBY NATIONS AND COMMUNITIES, AND INSTEAD TO TRUST IN YAHUAH THAT BUILDING THE TEMPLE WOULD BRING FORTH A BLESSING AND NOT MORE PRESSURE UPON THE JEWISH PEOPLE.
THEN AFTER MANY YEARS EZRA CAME TO RESTORE LAW AND ORDER IN THE TEMPLE, SO THAT YAHUAH'S BLESSINGS WOULD BE WITH HIS PEOPLE ... REMEMBER EZRA ALWAYS PREPARED HIS HEART TO PLEASE YAHUAH THROUGH HIS LIFE AND BEHAVIOUR :
HOW DO WE PREPARE OUR HEARTS?
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SCRIPTURE UNDERSTANDING :
“Be ready and keep ready, you and all your hosts that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them.”
1 PETER 3:15
“But in your hearts honour Yahusha Messiah as set-apart, always being prepared to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that's in you - yet do it with gentleness and respect”.
2 TIMOTHY 2:15
“Do your best to present yourself to Yahusha as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth”.
2 TIMOTHY 4:2
“Preach the word - be ready in season and out of season - reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching”.
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the favour that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yahusha Messiah”.
“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept”.
“Therefore you also must be ready and prepare, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect”.
WE HEAR THAT YAHUAH’S GOOD HAND WAS UPON EZRA AND HE WAS PROTECTED BECAUSE HE CHOSE TO PREPARE HIS HEART, BEHAVE AND SEEK YAHUAH IN EVERYTHING HE CHOSE TO DO!
ARE YOU PREPARING YOUR HEART BY DAILY FILLING IT WITH THE LIVING WORDS OF YAHUSHA - ARE YOU CONSCIOUSLY AND PURPOSELY MAKING YOURSELF READY FOR HIS SOON RETURN?
(WITHIN YOURSELF) ARE YOU STANDING AT ATTENTION EVERY MORNING, DRESSED IN YOUR ARMOUR, SWORD AND SHIELD IN HAND, LIKE A SOLDIER, ENLISTED IN A ROYAL BATTLE ... READY TO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE KING ... A LOVE-SLAVE ... ONE WHO HAS BEEN SET FREE OF THEIR CHAINS, YET CHOOSES TO STAY YOKED AND JOINED IN CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MASTER YAHUSHA ... NOT TURNING OUR BACKS AND HIDING FROM HIS FACE THROUGH GUILT AND SHAME, BUT DESIRING TO SEEK HIS FACE AND LOVE IN EVERY MATTER THROUGHOUT OUR DAY?
REMEMBER AT YOUR IMMERSION YOU WERE GIVEN A NEW HEART :
* ARE YOU GUARDING IT?
(YOU GUARD YOUR HEART AT THE EAR-GATES!)
* FILLING IT WITH GOOD STUFF OR BAD?
* THE FRUIT REVEALS THE KIND OF TREE ...
* SO WHAT BEHAVIOUR COMES FROM YOU?
ONLY THOSE LIVING AND OPERATING IN THIS KIND OF SUPERNATURAL RELATIONSHIP WILL BE CHOSEN AND ACCEPTED BY HIM AT HIS RETURN!
IT'S TIME TO PREPARE ..... QUICKSMART!