In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Ezra-Nehemiah

  • Introduction

Biblical Studies Ezra-Nehemiah
Lester L. Grabbe
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 December 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 31 August 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0199


The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are among the latest in the Hebrew Bible, not only in their ostensible setting (in the Persian period) but also in the time of their presumed composition (late Persian or early Greek period). They tell a story of how Jews living in exile in Babylonia (who themselves—or in most cases, their ancestors—had been exiled after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE) returned to the land of Judah, settled in it, and rebuilt the temple and the city of Jerusalem. The story sets itself as beginning in the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia (539[559]–530 BCE), and continuing until at least the end of the reign of Artaxerxes I (465–424 BCE), and perhaps as late as Artaxerxes II (404–359 BCE), depending on when one dates the activities of Ezra. Many of the studies relating to Ezra-Nehemiah attempt to elucidate the place of Judah and the Jews in the Persian Empire. Thus, the historical background takes up a significant portion of studies in this area. Many of the relevant overviews will be discussed under Ezra-Nehemiah Texts.

Background History

Commentaries (see Ezra-Nehemiah Texts) usually try to give some background on the context and history of the book(s) in question, but their focus is necessarily on the contents and details of the biblical text. This section provides general reference works, monographs, and articles that include information on a variety of topics, including history, archaeology, literature, personalities, and background in general. There are several useful general works, providing a good deal of background on the biblical books.

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