This book takes up the history of Israel into the period we call 'Judaism'.
The dating of this book and its connection with that of Nehemiah that follows may be of concern to academics, but to the average Bible reader is of little consequence.
What really matters is that both books reflect a post-exilic period when, chastened by suffering, God's people, established once more in their own land, determine to be a people apart from the nations round about. An exclusive attitude characterises this period of the history and religion of Israel which we term 'Judaism'.
It is extremely doubtful whether King Cyrus made his edicts in
the form given, but certainly permissions was granted for captive
Jews to return and to restore the devastated city of Jerusalem.
The returning exiles determine to rebuild the 'House of God'.
Great emotion was experienced as the work of Temple rebuilding
Considerable opposition was experienced from Jerusalem's neighbours round about, as they contemplated a powerful city arising from the ashes of Jerusalem, but with God's help the returning exiles succeeded in completing the work of restoration and rebuilding.
Ezra rejoiced in the work accomplished, but was dismayed that
the "Jews" (the returned exiles) had not kept themselves
pure and separated from the peoples round about. No doubt he
was haunted by the fear that they would be corrupted by contact
with their neighbours. Here begins (or continues) that exclusive
attitude that separates the Jew from the Gentile. Ezra prays
and declares that foreign marriages must be dissolved. Although
many hearts were no doubt made heavy, Ezra's decree resulted in
the cleansing of Judah from foreign influences.
Ezra 9.v.1 to 10.v.5