The Return Under Zerubbabel."
This Bible Study is provided by http://www.theseason.org/ with permission from it's author R. Christopherson
Though our Bible considers the books of Ezra and Nehemiah as two separate books, in the Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible, and the early printed editions of the Hebrew text; these two books are always treated and reckoned as one book. the "Massorites", the recorders and keepers of the sacred text place notes at the end of each book, and in those manuscripts they do not recognize an ending to the book until the last verse of Nehemiah.
Within the two books, Ezra limits his writings mainly to the events connected with the temple, while Nehemiah confines himself to the events connected with the wall and the City. Ezra was placed prior to the book of Nehemiah, mainly because the Temple is considered more important that the walls and the city, both morally and spiritually.
To understand the book of Ezra it is important to understand what was taking place at this time. The "House of Judah", better known as the Jews had been taken into captivity seventy years earlier by King Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon This was exactly as the prophet Jeremiah had said that they would be taken. Babylon, of course, means confusion.
The first group to find their way back to Jerusalem, to rebuild the Temple was led by Zerubbabel, which means "born in Babel, or confusion. It indicates the coming out of confusion. There are many hidden things found in this book of Ezra. In the original manuscripts you will find multi-languages that it was written in, and it is prophecy for both the eerily days, in its showing of the things that will be wrong.
Within the book of Ezra, the English reader simply will not understand unless they have the tools to understand the words and terms of the Hebrew, and some of the Ancient Chaldee. This is because the message is hidden within its terms and idioms. We will try to point out those places that are of importance.
The prophet Daniel had prophesied these seventy years that would be upon the captivity to the Jews, but he also prophesied of a four hundred and ninety year period which runs at the same time with this seventy year period, which would count down the years to the first advent, or coming of the Messiah. So there is a lot going on within the structure of this book of Ezra.
The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are treated by the scholars as one book. It is both Ezra and Nehemiah that are ordered by God to put the books in order that they are in; and form the process of doing this, we have the Massorah. The Massorah so locks in the Scriptures that no change can be made. The purpose of this ingenuity is set forth to safeguard the Sacred Text, and prevent the loss or misplacement of a single letter or word."
The Massorah is not contained in the margins of any one manuscript [MS]; and no manuscript contains the whole, or even the same part. These notes in the margins are spread over many manuscripts [MSS] and all of these manuscripts were to become the collection of the Scholar, Dr. C. D. Ginsburg that was the first and only Scholar to do such a thing. Dr. Ginsburg collected and collated the whole Massorah, and copied it from every available MS [manuscript].
It is from Ginsburg's work, formed in "The Companion Bible" that readers are put in possession of information denied to former generations of translators, commentators, critics, and general Bible students. It is from these notes, that our study of Ezra and Nehemiah will come.
Ezra is recorded first, however much of each book parallels the other. Keep in mind though that Ezra was the rebuilder of the Temple; while Nehemiah is the builder of the walls and streets of Jerusalem. It is because of this that Nehemiah is considered the inferior by Scholars. Though Ezra talks about much of the events taking place four centuries prior to Jesus birth, it also has prophecies concerning the end times, and what we will see today, as Christians wake up to the bondage of the Babylon of old, and see how we are tied to it even today. The king of Babylon in the end times we know to be the Antichrist, which the world is being set up to accept as the true Messiah.
We must also keep in mind that the "House of Israel", which comprised not the Jews, but the ten tribes to the north of Judea, were scattered over two centuries prior to the writting of the book of Ezra. They were scattered by the Assyrians from 745 B.C. to 722 B.C., and by the time of Ezra, they had migrated through the Caucasus Mountains, and elsewhere to settle in Western Europe, Russia, and on to the Americas. They became know to this day as Caucasians.
So all that Ezra is pertaining to, in reference to the "whole house", is the fragments of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and part of the Levi tribes. Of the millions that existed prior to the fall of Jerusalem, and king Zedekiah's rule, only a scant forty four thousand will return to Jerusalem. We will also begin to understand why some of the scriptures are confused, and Jesus Christ Himself said in Matthew 23:2; "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat:".
The word Ezra in the Hebrew language means "help". Many of the problems that we have today comes from the carelessness of these scribes and Pharisees as they begin their migration back to Jerusalem.
Ezra 1:1 "Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the Mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying."
Keep in mind that Cyrus is not an Israelite, but a Medo-Persian king, the son of King Astyages and Queen Esther. This king was so named nearly two hundred years before he was born, as prophesied in Isaiah 44:28. King Cyrus is called by the Israelites at this time a heathen, however Cyrus is following "the word of the Lord". This is another proof to us that God is in control.
Ezra 1:2 "Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah."
How could king Cyrus make such a statement? To understand why we must go to Isaiah 44:24; "Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and He That formed thee from the womb, "I am the Lord That maketh all things; That stretcheth forth the heavens alone; That spreadeth abroad the earth by myself." This is given to show us God's power and authority and control over all things.
Isaiah 44:25; "That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; That turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;" God doesn't let the liars and diviners get away with anything. The knowledge of the wisdom of this world is foolish, because in most cases it goes contrary to God's holy Word.
Isaiah 44:26; "That confirmeth the word of His Servant,, and performeth the counsel of His messengers;" The servant here is Isaiah.
Isaiah 44:27; "That saith to the deep, 'Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:"
Now we get to the subject.
Isaiah 44:28; "That saith of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, 'Thou shalt be built;' and to the temple, ' thy foundation shall be laid.' " Isaiah prophesied this over a century [137 years] before Cyrus was born, and God named this king, through his mother Esther, of the Book of Esther. God is telling us through Isaiah that it is He that will rebuild Jerusalem. Though Ezra and Nehemiah were chosen by Cyrus to go back, it was God that chose Cyrus to oversee that the job would get done.
Isaiah 45:1; "Thus saith the Lord to His anointed to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him, and I will loose the loins of kings; to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;"
King Cyrus walked into Babylon and the gate of the city were wide open, and the people were glad to receive him as their ruler.
Isaiah 45:2 "I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:" Herodotus (i, 180) tells us that the gates leading to the river that Cyrus came by were made of brass. God will open the gates of each of our problems, if we will but seek His help, and ask for it, and love and trust Him.
Isaiah 45:3; "And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, Which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel."
God knew Cyrus, because he made him and named him. The reason we must go to Isaiah before continuing in Ezra, is to help us see that what is taking place Ezra was forecasted many many years prior to the birth of Cyrus, and that the power and authority that Cyrus uses comes direct from God, as a shepherd and servant of our Heavenly Father.
God continues to tell us of His power, authority and control:
Isaiah 45:4; "For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me." It was God that gove Jacob his name of Israel, and by that name Jacob and his generations become identified as being of God.
Isaiah 45:5-6; "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded thee, thought thou hast not known Me:  That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the Lord, and there is none else." 
God is telling us that there simply is no other source but Him in the entire universe. There is no power or strength in Satan, for Satan is the imitator and what ever power and strength he can show, is given to him by God. When Satan tries to tell you that there are many ways to God, he is lying.
Isaiah 45:7; "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." There is error in the translation here. God does not "create evil", for the Hebrew word would be better translated "calamity", or "adversity". God will bring calamity into your life, if you are one of His elect, and it is necessary to bring you in line with His work. He will do that, but God does not create evil, of a sin nature, for it is not within His nature.
Isaiah 45:8; "Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it." God created you, your soul, your inner person, and you are His child. God created all things "for His pleasure."
Revelation 4:11; "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."
Isaiah 45:9; "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?" Don't ever blame God for any moment; "Why have you placed this burden on me? God doesn't put burdens on people, but He will allow a temptation to be placed on them for testing; we put our own burdens on ourselves. And then most of the times we just don't know how to get out from under them.
Our Heavenly Father is always in control, and He has let us know exactly what He will do at all times through His Word, the Bible. God has such a peaceful and comfortable plan, and those that align with that plan will find happiness and comfort in His Words.
Ezra 1:3 "Who is there among you of all His people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem."
This is Cyrus the Persian king talking, and this king knows what the prophet has written about himself. Cyrus is telling the people that God is the heavenly Father.
Ezra 1:4 "And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem."
Cyrus is telling all the Jews that do not want to go back to Jerusalem, at least help those people that are going back. Remember back in Isaiah 44:28 where God called Cyrus "My shepherd"? Well, Cyrus is the shepherd of God's sheep.
Ezra 1:5 "Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem."
You would think that the "priests" and the "Levites" are one of the same, as being the new government; however they are not, and before we end the Book of Ezra it will become clear. Cyrus is telling all the people that God will raise their spirit, and through that spirit, the Temple of God will be raised.
Ezra 1:6 "And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all the was willingly offered."
After Cyrus went to the people, they gave freely of their goods and money, and there was plenty to get it done with.
Ezra 1:7 "Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods;"
These are the same vessels that Belshazzar took from his father's storage area, and was having his big drinking orgy with. After he did that he saw a sight that shook him and claimed his life that very night [Daniel 5].
Ezra 1:8 "Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Methredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshabazzar, the prince of Judah."
"Sheshabazzar" is the Chaldee name of "prince of Judah" and he was "Nehemiah, the son of Hachaliah and Zidkijah, and therefore a "prince of Judah".
Ezra 1:9 "And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives,"
Ezra 1:10 "Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand."
Cyrus was holding nothing back from God Temple for himself.
Ezra 1:11 "All the vessels of gold and silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem."
So we see here that King Cyrus is taking back to Jerusalem all the wealth that King Nebuchadnezzar had brought out. Each of these kings God called his servants, and both the taking out and the bringing back was at the order of the Almighty Father. God will use whom ever and what ever He chooses.
Plough .~ Seeds .~ Vine .~ Potter .~ Seasons .~ Sonshine .~ Rain .~ Field