Study Guide

Ezra and Nehemiah Genre

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Ancient Biblical History

The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah aren't really history books in the modernday sense of the term. Rather, they express a people's sense of its own history. They show Israel fulfilling its story—returning from exile, triumphing over obstacles posed from without and within, in order to re-dedicate itself to God. It depicts Israel as a people with a destiny: creating a community that lives in obedience to God. So, the books interpret their history through that lens, as fulfillment of the prophecies of return from exile.

Ezra and Nehemiah describe the most chronologically recent events in the Hebrew Bible. (The Book of Maccabees isn't in the Hebrew scriptures even though it describes later events involving Jewish heroes. It's in the Catholic version. Go figure.)

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