Author: Ron Graham
Time ~ 8. Return of the Remnant
Span ~ 140 years
Books ~ Ezr, Neh, Est, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
Figures ~ Ezra Nehemiah
Begins with ~ The decree to rebuild Jerusalem
Ascendant empire ~ Medopersia
We now come in our studies to the eighth of the Times of Israel —the Return of the Remnant— which commenced after seventy years of exile under the Babylonians.
Some of the Jews were able to return to Judah in order to begin rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. This remnant of a once-great nation was still greatly oppressed, and it was only with distress that they rebuilt the city over several decades.
In this lesson, we concentrate on Zerubbabel and the Jews' first return and attempt at rebuilding.
Cyrus issued a decree that exiles should return and rebuild, just as Isaiah had prophesied two centuries earlier (Isaiah 44:28). The three main leaders of this time were Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
Zerubbabel led the people in the reigns of the Persian kings Cyrus and Darius.
Ezra and Nehemiah were leaders in the reign of Artaxerxes.
The return of the exiles to Judah, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, was accomplished in three main stages.
When Zerubbabel led the first party of exiles back to Jerusalem, the first thing they rebuilt was the altar so that worship and sacrifice could begin again. They also managed to lay the foundations for a new temple.
There were mixed feelings. Some sang for joy at this beginning, but the old men who had seen the former temple wept loudly.
This story illustrates the fact that trying to make progress in God's work is not always easy. However, we should try to do something, and make sure of two things:
in the period covered by the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
Cyrus (559-530 BC) [Foretold by Isaiah]
Cyrus reigned in the latter part of Daniel's life. During Cyrus's rule, Zerubbabel led the exiles back to Jerusalem to rebuild the altar and temple foundations (Ezra 3:2-3,10).
Cambyses (530-522 BC) [Not mentioned in the Bible]
No rebuilding work was able to be done in this period (Ezra 4:25).
Darius (522-486 BC) [Not the earlier Darius the Mede]
In the reign of Darius, the temple was rebuilt. Haggai and Zechariah were prophets.
Xerxes (486-465 BC) [Also known as Ahasuerus]
This was the time of Esther and Mordecai.
Artaxerxes (464-423 BC) [Also known as Longimanus]
More return and rebuilding led by Ezra, and Nehemiah. This was the time of Malachi the prophet.