These Are The Days Of The Prophets: A Literary Analysis of Ezra 1-6 -- By: Christopher R. Lortie

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 64:2 (NA 2013)
Article: These Are The Days Of The Prophets: A Literary Analysis of Ezra 1-6
Author: Christopher R. Lortie


These Are The Days Of The Prophets:
A Literary Analysis of Ezra 1-6

Christopher R. Lortie

Summary

This study outlines a plot structure for Ezra 1-6 based upon the עלה (‘lh) imperative and בנה (bnh) imperative given in the decree by Cyrus (Ezra 1:2-4) and argues that they provide a clear framework for the narrative. The Judaean people are able to accomplish the עלה imperative without conflict, but the בנה imperative is not completed as easily. The temple rebuilding project reaches a standstill in Ezra 4:24. At this point the prophets Haggai and Zechariah intervene and become the catalyst for the resolution of the בנה imperative and the narrative as a whole (5:1; 6:14). The narrative is structured to demonstrate that Yhwh is the one who enables the temple rebuilding project to succeed through the action of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah over against the Persian kings.1

1. Introduction

The structure and outline of Ezra 1-6 has often been debated without a consensus view emerging. Often the plot of Ezra 1-6 is subsumed into the plot of Ezra 7Nehemiah 13 without full consideration for structure of the temple rebuilding project and specifically the powerful role of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.2 Focusing specifically on Ezra 1-6,

Lisbeth Fried has argued that the structure of the text fits the pattern for temple building projects in the ancient Near East with some revisions ‘to conform to Aristotelian rules of tragic drama’.3 However, what has not yet been explored is the manner in which the verbs עלה and בנה as given in the decree of Cyrus provide a clear structure for the Ezra 1-6 narrative. With this structure in place emphasis is drawn to the role of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah in the completion of the temple rebuilding project.4

2. Structure Of Ezra 1-6

2.1 Imperatives 1:1-4

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