The first group of returnees received the task of rebuilding the temple of God. We will study about the opposition to the building of the temple in a later lesson. Now, we will discuss the succession of Persian kings during the temple’s prolonged construction and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. It is important to know the history behind the stories of Ezra and Nehemiah, as it provides a deeper insight into their messages.
Read Ezra 4:1-7. Who were the different kings mentioned during whose reign the opposition to the building of the temple occurred?
Here is the list of Persian kings, in their chronological order, who are connected with the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. It begins with Cyrus, who established the Persian Empire and conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.:
- Cyrus II “the Great” (559–530 B.C.)
- Cambyses II (530–522 B.C.)
- Darius I (522–486 B.C.)
- Xerxes I (485–465 B.C). (Also known from the book of Esther as Ahasuerus.)
- Artaxerxes I (465-424 B.C).
As we study these books, it’s very important to know that the appearance of these kings is not mentioned in Ezra in chronological order. For example, Ezra 4:6-24 is inserted before chapter 5, which continues the story of the opposition to the building of the temple. Consequently, the letters involving Xerxes I (Ahasuerus) and Artaxerxes I described in Ezra chapter 4 occurred after the events recorded in chapters 5 and 6, dealing with Darius I. This sequence can seem perplexing to readers, and it may account for some of the confusion that people have had over the centuries regarding the books. As we go through the quarter, knowing the order of events will help us better understand the messages of Ezra and Nehemiah.
|How often have you found things in the Bible that have perplexed you? How can you learn to trust God, and His Word, even when you come across things that don’t seem to make sense? Why is it important for you to do so? (See Isa. 55:8-9).|