A Chronological Note: The Return Of The Exiles Under Sheshbazzar And Zerubbabel (Ezra 1-2) -- By: Andrew E. Steinmann
Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 51:3 (Sep 2008)
Article: A Chronological Note: The Return Of The Exiles Under Sheshbazzar And Zerubbabel (Ezra 1-2)
Author: Andrew E. Steinmann
JETS 51:3 (September 2008) p. 513
A Chronological Note: The Return Of The Exiles Under Sheshbazzar And Zerubbabel (Ezra 1-2)
* Andrew Steinmann is professor of theology and Hebrew at Concordia University Chicago, 7400 Augusta Street, River Forest, IL 60305–1499.
The text of Ezra is replete with chronological information, beginning with the first chapter’s reference to Cyrus’s first year (538 bc; Ezra 1:1) and ending with the last chapter’s reference to the first day of the first month of what is apparently Artaxerxes’ eighth year (March 27, 457 bc; Ezra 10:17)1 Between these are sixteen other references to specific years, months, or days (Ezra 3:1, 6, 8; 4:24; 5:13, 6:3, 15, 19; 7:7, 8, 9 [2x]; 8:31, 33; 10:9, 16). Despite this seeming wealth of chronological data, the date of the first major event in the book following Cyrus’s decree—the return of exiles under the leadership of Zerubbabel—is not recorded. The closest that the writer comes to dating this event is Ezra 3:8:
In the second year of the coming to the house of God, to Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak with the rest of their brothers, the priests and the Levites and all who came from the captivity of Jerusalem, began. They appointed the Levites from twenty years old and older to supervise the work on the house of Yahweh.
Apparently the events of Ezra 2:1–3:7 took place in the first year of “the coming to the house of God, to Jerusalem.” But this does not answer the question of when the exiles first returned to Jerusalem. It had to have happened sometime after Cyrus’s decree in his first year (538 bc),2 but sometime before the end of his reign (530 ...
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