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Chapter 2 Temporal Ordering In Ezra: Part II

“The Chronological Relation of Ezra and Nehemiah,” Bibliotheca Sacra 162 (Apr-Jun 2005): forthcoming

Contrary to what one might expect, the reactions to Ezra’s chronological anomalies do not divide neatly into critical and conservative camps. Three positions cover the range of responses to the chronological difficulties discussed in the previous chapter: (1) rejection of the narrative order and rearrangement of its materials, (2) acceptance of the narrative order and the assertion that it proceeds in chronological fashion, and (3) acceptance of the narrative order and an attempt to account for the non-chronological presentation. There is, however, a chronological issue which is logically prior to the specific anomalies within Ezra. The core questions in this issue are the timing and sequence of the missions of Ezra and Nehemiah: who came first— Ezra or Nehemiah—and when did they come?91 At stake is the historical background on which literary and theological analyses necessarily build.

The Chronological Order of Ezra and Nehemiah

With virtually one voice scholars acknowledge that the Biblical text presents Ezra as preceding Nehemiah and makes Ezra and Nehemiah contemporaries during the latter’s governorship.92 Nehemiah’s arrival in 445 B.C. during the reign of Artaxerxes I constitutes perhaps the only other point of agreement in this long-standing debate.93 Past this point consensus disappears, even among critics.94 Among the many objections raised to the Biblical text’s presentation, three issues surface repeatedly as being the most problematic: (1) the apparent lack of cooperation between Ezra and Nehemiah; (2) the thirteen-year gap between Ezra’s arrival and his reading of the law; and (3) the generational distance between the high priests associated with each reformer.95

The first problem arises from the fact that Ezra does not mention Nehemiah in his book and that Nehemiah mentions Ezra in conjunction with himself only three times.96 There is nothing, however, particularly remarkable about this silence. Neither Haggai and Zechariah nor Jeremiah and Ezekiel, both of whom were contemporaries, mention the other in their writings.97 The absence of Nehemiah in Ezra should not be surprising, for Ezra closes his narrative prior to Nehemiah’s arrival in Jerusalem. On the other hand, the fact is that Nehemiah mentions Ezra nine times in his narrative,98 if one does not accept the source-critical excision of chapters 8-10 from the book. The absence of cooperation between Ezra and Nehemiah some find so amazing is a reflection of their own presuppositions rather than the communication of the narrative.

The thirteen-year hiatus between Ezra’s arrival and his first recorded public reading of the law in Nehemiah 8 is not the problem that many make it appear to be. In the first place narrative silence does not afford proof or even evidence of historical inactivity.99 Further, the language of the princes’ report regarding the mixed marriages (9:1-2 ) reflects a knowledge of the Mosaic law.100 Whether Ezra taught the law publicly, privately, or not at all between his arrival and his first recorded public reading of the law has no necessary bearing on whether he preceded Nehemiah.

The third problem, though more formidable in its complexity, is no less tractable than the first two. The facts of the matter are these: (1) in 458 B.C. Ezra is said to have entered the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib (Ezra 10:6 ); (2) in 445 B.C. Eliashib is the high priest when Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem (Neh. 3:1 , 20 ); and (3) around 410 B.C., according to the Elephantine correspondence (AP 30), a Jehohanan is high priest.101 From this data, it is argued that “Ezra would not be expected to be consorting with subordinate officials and youths, but with the high priest”; therefore, Ezra must have returned when Jehohanan was high priest (i.e., after 410).102 This is, however, pure conjecture. The text says nothing of consorting; it simply states that Ezra made use of Jehohanan’s chamber. As it stands, the Biblical evidence contains no inherent contradictions. Eliashib was high priest at least from the time of Ezra’s arrival through the time of Nehemiah (458-445). Eliashib’s son Joiada succeeded him (Neh. 12:22 ). Upon Joiada’s death, Jehohanan, Eliashib’s other son, assumed the high priesthood (Neh. 12:22 ). If each of these men was high priest for at least 20 years, Jehohanan could have been a young man at Ezra’s arrival and the high priest 50-60 years later.103 The best case that proponents of reversing the order of Ezra and Nehemiah can make is that probability is on their side.104 The relative strength of that probability is, however, a function of their own subjective evaluation of the data.105 In the final analysis, none of the alternatives to the traditional order presents sufficient evidence to demonstrate the inaccuracy of the Biblical record.106 Therefore, the timing and sequence implied by the Biblical record will form the basis of this dissertation.

Rejection and Rearrangement of the Narrative Order

Radical critics’ analyses of Ezra have occasionally been harsh in the extreme. Charles C. Torrey denounces the book as a chaotic jumble of temporal fragments, misaligned and incomprehensible.107 L. W. Batten , asserts that multiple editings of the text have left it “very badly arranged.”108 Other critics, less radical than Torrey or Batten , nonetheless regard the materials in these books as confused,109 and reject “the present chaotic order of the Ezra-Nehemiah narrative … [as] not that originally produced by the Chronicler.”110

Typical explanations for this unseemly state of affairs include scribal errors, redactors’ blunders, and confusion on the part of the Chronicler.111 Table 5 displays several critical rearrangements of the material of Ezra and Nehemiah. The arrangement an author follows relates directly to his view of the chronological relationship between Ezra and Nehemiah. C. C. Torrey ,112 A. Gelin,113 and Wilhelm Rudolph 114 accept the Biblical order and place Ezra before Nehemiah. N. H. Snaith 115 and L. W. Batten , on the other hand, regard Nehemiah as prior and therefore place the bulk of that book before Ezra 7-10.

The rationale that critics set forth for a wholesale rearrangement of the text rarely has an objective basis in the text and generally arises entirely from their own subjective sense of what is appropriate. Some argue that the present arrangement cannot be correct because just a few years after Ezra’s reform, Nehemiah is dealing with the same problem of mixed marriages.116

Table 5 — Critical Rearrangements of Ezra and Nehemiah






Ezra 1:1


Ezra 1-8

Ezra 1

Ezra 1-4:3

1 Esd. 4:47-5:6


Neh. 7:72b-8:18

Ezra 4:7-24

Ezra 4:24b-6:18

Ezra 2-8

Ezra 7-8

Ezra 9-10

Ezra 2:1-4:5

Ezra 4:4-24 a

Neh. 7:70-8:18

Neh. 7:72-8:18

Neh. 9-10

Ezra 5:1-6:22

Neh. 1-7

Ezra 9-10

Ezra 9-10

Neh 1:1-7:72 a

Neh. 1-7:72

Neh. 11-13

Neh. 9-10

Neh. 9

Neh. 11-13

Neh. 9-13

Ezra 7-10

Neh 1:1-7:69


Ezra 7:1-10

Neh. 8-10

Neh. 11-13


Ezra 8-10


Neh. 7:73-8:18


The present arrangement would imply that Ezra failed in his mission, and that is not possible; therefore, the text’s arrangement must be wrong. Others assert the “obvious” absurdities of the Masoretic order, and proceed to rearrange the text at will.117 Torrey , on the other hand, offers the following reasons for his rearrangement. First, the present form of Ezra and Nehemiah indicates that the teaching of the law was Ezra’s primary mission, and yet he waits thirteen years to read the law the first time (Neh. 8:2 ). Second, the rebuke in chapter nine presupposes an understanding of the law, but according to the current order of the text it had not yet been read.118 Third, the abruptness of Ezra’s conclusion indicates that an unfortunate mistake has “torn it asunder from its context and thus produced such a poor ending.”119 Torrey amends all of these problems and others by inserting Nehemiah 7:70-8:18 between Ezra 8 and 9, creating a seamless transition between the two. He also places Nehemiah 9-10 after Ezra 9-10 , bringing Ezra’s narrative, in his opinion, to the proper conclusion.

Quite a number of problems beset such critical rearrangements of the text, even apart from the fact that they constitute an implicit denial of the text’s inspiration. First, the MT, Esdras b (2 Esdras), and the Syriac give unanimous testimony to the order of the received text. Second, three fragments from the fourth Qumran cave (4QEzra) corroborate the narrative order of the MT in 4:2-6 , 9-11 , and 5:17-6:5 .120 The uniformity of the textual evidence removes any need for positing redaction of the text.121 Third, that Ezra used sources is apparent to even a casual reader, but the only evidence of those source documents exists in the text of Ezra. Reconstructions of the source documents, including the supposed “memoirs” of Ezra or Nehemiah, are wholly conjectural and are, therefore, an insufficient basis for rearranging the text. The fourth problem that faces the critic is that the author gives every indication that he knows the proper chronology of the Persian kings.122 He is at pains to give ample indication when he has switched from one topic to another. There is, therefore, no reason to believe that he did not know how the pieces of post-exilic history fit together.

Rejection of Anachrony: Forced Chronology

The second approach to Ezra’s narrative order argues that, properly understood, the Book of Ezra proceeds according to chronological order. Conservative commentators of the nineteenth-century are the primary proponents of this approach,123 though it has not been without support in the twentieth century.124 The adherents to this view marshal historical, linguistic, and contextual evidence to support their understanding of the text.

Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews and the apocryphal 1 Esdras provide the primary historical impetus for this approach. According to Josephus’s account, the “Artaxerxes” of Ezra 4:8-23 was Cambyses, the son of Cyrus.125 This identification explains 1 Esdras’s placement of Ezra 4:8-23 immediately after the account of Cyrus’s edict (Ezra 1:1-10 ).126 Josephus’s identification smoothes out most of chapter four’s chronological challenges; however, it does not account for the “Ahasuerus” in 4:6 .127

A minority of older commentators, Matthew Henry and John Gill among them,128 and at least one modern scholar, D. L. Emery , regard both Ahasuerus (4:6 ) and Artaxerxes (4:7 ff) as names that refer to Cambyses, the son of Cyrus.129 The majority of older commentators, however, maintain chronological order in chapter four by identifying Ahasuerus (4:6 ) as Cambyses and Artaxerxes (4:7-23 ) as Pseudo-Smerdis, the man who usurped the Persian throne for seven months by impersonating Smerdis, Cambyses’s brother.130 Most of these same commentators identify the “Artaxerxes” in Ezra 7-10 as Artaxerxes Longimanus I, who succeeded Xerxes.

Those holding the Cambyses-Smerdis view offer several arguments to buttress their position. The most frequently cited support is the claim that Persian rulers often had more than one name. Second, they argue that identifying the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4 with the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7-10 and Nehemiah creates an improbable series of drastic reversals on the part of the Persian monarch: high favor granted to Ezra, an unfavorable requirement to stop building the walls, high favor granted to Nehemiah—all by the same king. Third, from the context itself, some assert that the Samarians’ reference to the building of the city walls was a malicious lie and that the Israelites were not really building the city walls.131 If this was the case, a key element of 4:8-23 ’s discontinuity with its surrounding context would be removed. Finally, commentators also contend that since the Aramaic particle /ydab connects verses 23 and 24 , the events in verses 8-23 must immediately precede those of verse 24 . The occurrence of the word “ceased” (lfb) in both verses also creates a linkage between them, strengthening this connection.132

Although this position has received support from able men, even in its heyday it was not without dissent from conservatives. In their commentaries on Ezra, both C. F. Keil and F. U. Schultz devote extended sections to refuting the identification of Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes with Cambyses and Pseudo-Smerdis.133 Under careful examination, attempts to smooth all chronological wrinkles from chapter four lose their initial appeal.

The presence of glaring errors in Josephus’s account of post-exilic times renders his historical reconstruction suspect in regard to Ezra. For example, he places the return of both Ezra and Nehemiah in the reign of Xerxes and states that Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem in the 25th year of Xerxes. The problem is that Xerxes’ reign lasted only twenty-one years.134

The narrative flow of chapter four also militates against this view. It is true that the Aramaic particle /yda normally indicates events that follow closely upon what happened previously.135 However, neither the immediate nor the wider contexts support using /ydab to argue that the events of 4:24 must follow those of 4:23 . Ezra 4:5 covers the time span between Cyrus and Darius—“all the days of Cyrus … even unto the reign of Darius.” In verses six and seven, the changes in reference from Darius to Ahasuerus and then from Ahasuerus to Artaxerxes imply that Ezra is moving chronologically through the Persian kings, citing pertinent examples of Samarian opposition. There is also a clear change in the object of opposition: from the temple in 4:1-5 to the walls of Jerusalem in 4:7-23 . Rather than expressing a connection to verse 23 , /ydab signals the author’s return to his primary narrative. This interpretation of /ydab is further confirmed by Ezra’s use of resumptive repetition to reconnect his narrative’s plot-line: the last phrase of 4:5 parallels precisely the last phrase of 4:24 .136

Contrary to older commentators’ frequent citation of the “well-known fact” that Persian kings had multiple names, no extant archeological or inscriptional evidence equates Cambyses with Ahasuerus or Artaxerxes with Pseudo-Smerdis, or uses Artaxerxes as a general title for Persian monarchs. From a philological standpoint, H. H. Schaeder ’s analysis of vwrwvja and vsvjtra establishes beyond reasonable doubt that Ahasuerus and Artachshashta are in fact the Aramaic names for Xerxes and Artaxerxes.137

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the two positions just surveyed is that both radical critics138 and older conservatives139 appeal to Ezra’s strong chronological development as a support for their position. This common appeal by groups with significantly divergent presuppositions underscores the contention of the previous chapter that chronology functions as a prime ordering principle in the narrative. Despite chronology’s prominence, however, the narrative’s large-scale deviations from the order of history cannot be forced into a chronological mold.

Anachrony Accepted and Explained

The third position accepts the narrative as it stands and attempts to discern the author’s purpose for the present order. Some scholars regard the chronological deviations throughout the book as evidence of the text’s composite development and suggest that harsh seams did not disturb the literary sensibilities of the ancient near eastern writer.140 However, the majority position, espoused by both critical and conservative scholars, is that Ezra purposefully deviates from a strictly chronological presentation to develop a theme crucial to his message.141

In her monograph In An Age of Prose, Tamara Cohn Eskenazi offers an innovative rationale for the non-chronological order of events in Ezra 4. According to her view, one of the three primary themes of Ezra-Nehemiah is the “expansion of the house of God to encompass not merely the temple, but the city as a whole.”142 Specifically in regard to Ezra 4:7-24 , she proposes that the author deliberately placed the Artaxerxes letters in this location to expand the definition of the “house of God” to include the entire city of Jerusalem and its walls. The author accomplishes this expansion by moving the narrative focus from the temple (4:1-6 ) to the city walls (4:7-23 ) and back again to the temple (4:24 ).143

Eskenazi supports her thesis with a comparative analysis of Ezra-Nehemiah’s use of the word “temple” (lkyh) and the phrase “house of God” (<yhla tyb / ahla tyb).144 She argues that the lkyh can be a subset of the house of God and is not necessarily coextensive with it.145 She specifically appeals to Ezra 3:8 a as the key verse which supports her thesis: hnvbw
<lvwryl <yhlah tyb-la <awbl tynvh
—“And in the second year to their coming to the house of God, to Jerusalem … .” Noting that 3:6 says the foundations of the temple (lkyh) had not been laid, Eskenazi infers from 3:8 that there must be a distinction between the lkyh and the house of God since “the returnees arrived at the house of God before the temple had been founded.”146 The other evidences she offers in support of her thesis all build upon this analysis.147

The primary flaw in Eskenazi ’s argumentation is her failure to include all the relevant data in Ezra-Nehemiah in her analysis. The phrase “house of God/Yahweh” occurs 29 times in Ezra, and lkyh occurs 10 times. In twelve instances the “house of God/Yahweh” occurs in the phrase “the house of God/Yahweh which is in Jerusalem.”148 The relative clause <lvwryb!yd defines Jerusalem as the place in which the house of God is located, distinguishing the city of Jerusalem from the house of God. Further, when referring to the temple in 3:6-11, the narrator alternates between the phrases hwhy tyb, <yhla!tyb, and hwhy]lkyh. The synonymous interchange of these terms within the very context Eskenazi uses to distinguish them severely undercuts her argument.149

In Nehemiah neither lkyh nor house of God/Yahweh occurs in the first five chapters, the section that focused on the rebuilding of the city walls. In none of the twenty occurrences throughout the rest of Nehemiah does the phrase “house of God/Yahweh” clearly refer to anything other than the temple area in general or the sanctuary specifically. If Eskenazi were correct, one would expect the distinction between the house of God and the city to blur after Ezra chapter four and the identification of the two to become even clearer in Nehemiah. The fact is, however, that both books maintain a distinction between the city proper and the house of God. Given that the preponderance of the evidence in Ezra and Nehemiah favors distinguishing Jerusalem from the house of God and identifying the temple as the house of God, the one reference which is grammatically ambiguous (3:8a ) should be interpreted in harmony with the rest of the evidence.150

The most common explanation for the order of events in Ezra 4 is that Ezra is developing the theme of opposition.151 Moving beyond the theme itself are its implications, that is, why did Ezra choose to develop this theme at this point in his narrative?152 Both Williamson and Kidner offer helpful analyses of this theme’s significance. They regard it as an implicit justification of the rejection of the Samarians’ offer to help, as well as an anticipation of the internal problems the peoples of the land would cause.153 Williamson also recognizes the effects this anachronous presentation has on the overall shape of the narrative. Ezra deals with all external problems in the first section (chs. 1-6 ), isolating the major internal problem to the end.154 Williamson does not, however, pursue the ramifications of his observations. To date, the theological implications of the chronological displacement of chapters 7-10 for the message of the book as a whole remain undeveloped.

The analysis proposed here extends the observations of Kidner and Williamson in particular. Ezra has several purposes for altering his narrative’s chronology: retrospective, prospective, narrative and theological development. Aided by the generality of his temporal markers (4:5-7 ), Ezra creates a picture of relentless, malicious opposition by the people of the land to the people of God. Retrospectively, this concentrated demonstration of the Samarians’ long-standing opposition exposes the insincerity of their offer to help and justifies the narrator’s characterization of them as “enemies” in 4:1 .155 Prospectively, the narrative aligns the reader’s sympathies strongly in favor of the Jews, thereby mitigating or at least mollifying the negative response that forced divorce would naturally elicit. It also supplies background information that will support the severe measures Ezra takes at the end of the book.156

The narrative effects of Ezra’s presentational order have immediate theological ramifications. Ezra’s compression of eighty years of opposition into the confines of chapter four intensifies the darkness of his picture. At the same time, by ordering the narrative events so that the second episode (Ezra 3-6) ends near its beginning, he reveals God overturning a history of opposition and thereby magnifies God’s sovereignty over history. The narrative argues that His is a power greater than the world’s greatest monarchs. Their whim rules the world, but He controls their whims.

The narrative order not only exalts the power of God, but also gives the reader hope that even the enemy’s most recent efforts to obstruct God’s work (4:8-23), though apparently successful, will inevitably prove futile. In this way the text generates hope in the original reader for the future. At the same time the narrative offers hope, it is also setting the stage to explain why the people have faced this recent setback . This explanation, however, involves Ezra’s third strategy of time: temporal proportioning.

Temporal Proportioning in Ezra

Temporal proportioning in a narrative involves three elements: (1) the total amount of time the narrative covers; (2) the distribution of that time across the narrative, and (3) the relationship between the speed of time inside the narrative and the speed of time outside the narrative.

A narrative’s beginning and ending points are key elements of its temporal proportions.157 Ezra chooses a natural beginning point—the action of God in fulfilling His word through Jeremiah (1:1 ). Where Ezra ends is a different matter. Two aspects of his choice of an ending point mark it as irregular: (1) the narrative ends at a point prior to the latest events it records, and (2) the narrative stops abruptly with a list of names of those guilty of marrying foreigners. The entire second section occurred before the events of Ezra 4:8-23 . The anachronous placement of Ezra 7-10 argues that Ezra intends these events to conclude his narrative message. The simplicity of this observation is complicated by the final episode’s lack of denouement. The narrator seems to walk off stage with the last of the women and children, leaving the reader contemplating the significance of the final scene.158

As already noted, Ezra covers more than 80 years of post-exilic history, from 538 B.C. to sometime after 457 B.C. One might expect an even distribution of those years across the ten chapters of his narrative; however, that is not the case. The first section, 1-6 , covers all 80+ years, whereas the last section covers a time span of precisely one year to the day. This disproportionate division of time across his narrative draws attention to the final section.

The third element of the narrative’s temporal proportions involves Ezra’s manipulation of the pace of his narrative. Any narrative involves at least two dimensions of time. The first is the actual amount of time it takes to read the narrative, and the second is the amount of time in minutes, days, months, or years that the narrative covers.159 An average reader can read Ezra in 30 to 40 minutes. Ezra’s story, however, covers more than 80 years. The relationship between the speed at which those 80 years are covered and the time it takes to read that coverage is a prime clue to discerning an author’s purpose.160

The point here is that literary critics have long recognized that parity between internal and external time calls for reader attention. Internal time and external time match stride in four types of material in Ezra: the decrees of Persian kings, letters, dialogue, and prayers.161 What is particularly noteworthy about these instances of temporal parity is that they all revolve around one or more of Ezra’s key themes. The letters of Rehum (4:11-16) and Tatnai (5:7-17) and the order of cessation by Artaxerxes (4:17-23) develop the theme of opposition to God’s people. The decrees of Cyrus (1:2-4; 6:3-5), Darius (6:6-12), and Artaxerxes (7:12-26) develop the themes of God’s sovereign power and goodness. The confession of the princes (9:1-2 ), the prayer of Ezra (9:6-15) , and the interaction between the people and Ezra (10:2-4 , 10-14) develop the themes of holiness and the sin of God’s people .

The heavy concentration of this temporal equivalence in the narrative’s final episode argues that Ezra is deliberately drawing his reader’s attention to its details. His point is as theologically charged as his prayer. God’s favor and blessing rest upon those who obey Him, but His wrath is upon those who abandon Him (8:22 ). Participation in that blessing is contingent upon meeting the conditions God has established for granting the blessing. While purity of liturgy is important, purity of life is all important. God will not bless those who abandon Him.


In conclusion, temporal notations provide the tachometer for the story’s pace, the odometer for the story’s proportions, and the perimeter of its temporal bounds. Chronology provides the momentum for the narrative as well as the historical backdrop for Ezra’s use of anachrony. Anachrony transforms the book from a flat historical recitation into a complex theological message molded by Ezra’s arrangement of the events. Attention to Ezra’s use of temporal proportioning results in a clearer perception of the narrative’s focal points, and that in turn enables the interpreter to apply his exegetical and theological tools in the appropriate locations. Ezra’s temporal strategies do not, however, single-handedly develop or sustain the theological emphases of Ezra’s narrative. They work in conjunction with a whole array of other narrative forces. And it is to those forces that the following two chapters devote their attention.

91 For a valuable analysis of the history of this issue and the various positions scholars have taken, see David Eugene Suiter , “The Contribution of Chronological Studies for Understanding Ezra-Nehemiah” (Ph.D. diss., Iliff School of Theology, 1992). Helpful listings of relevant bibliography may be found in H. H. Rowley ’s chapter “The Chronological Order of Ezra and Nehemiah,” in The Servant of the Lord, 2d ed., rev. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965); and Leslie McFall ’s article, “Was Nehemiah Contemporary with Ezra in 458 BC?” WTJ 53 (1991): 263-293.

92 For examples of critical acknowledgments of this, see Rowley , 164; Joseph Blenkinsopp , Ezra-Nehemiah (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1988), 141; Peter R. Ackroyd , I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah (London: SCM Press, 1973), 24; N. H. Snaith , “The Date of Ezra’s Arrival in Jerusalem,” ZAW 63 (1951): 53.

93 Aaron Demsky , “Who Came First, Ezra or Nehemiah? The Synchronistic Approach,” HUCA 65 (1994): 3. For a rapid survey of the historical development of this issue, see McFall , 263-66.

94 For example, in 1962 H. H. Rowley listed more than 20 critical scholars who defend the traditional order of Ezra preceding Nehemiah (139-42). As Suiter points out, however, the term “traditional order” is somewhat misleading, for numbers of scholars cited by Rowley deny that the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah overlapped even though they place Ezra chronologically before Nehemiah.

95 For a thorough treatment of these key issues, see Derek Kidner ’s fourth appendix
in Ezra and Nehemiah, The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D. J. Wiseman (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979), 146-158. J. Stafford Wright formulates what is perhaps the classic conservative defense of the traditional order in his pamphlet The Date of Ezra’s Coming to Jerusalem (London: The Tyndale Press, 1958). For more expansive treatments, see Edwin M. Yamauchi , who provides a point-by-point refutation of 13 arguments against the traditional order in “The Reverse Order of Ezra/Nehemiah Reconsidered,” Themelios 5 no. 3 (1980): 7-13; and Ulrich Kellermann , “Erwgungen zum Problem der Esradatierung,” ZAW 80 (1968): 55-87. Though defending the traditional view, Kellermann argues from source-critical considerations that place him at odds with most conservative scholars.

96 Critical scholars uniformly assign Neh. 8-10 to the “Ezra Memoirs” source, thereby eliminating seven references to Ezra from the book of Nehemiah. Concerning the two other references to Ezra in Nehemiah (12:26 , 36 ), Rowley discounts them on the basis that there is “no evidence that these words stood in the Chronicler’s source” (164-65). Having consigned all the text’s evidence to hypothetical sources or the work of unattested compilers, critics argue that since Ezra and Nehemiah never mention each other, they must not have been contemporaries! J. A. Emerton uses the same rationale in his article, “Did Ezra Go to Jerusalem in 428 B.C.?” JTS 17 (1966): 16. A more interesting question raised by Demsky is why no mention is made of Ezra participating in the wall-building effort of Nehemiah. Regardless of the answer, one cannot legitimately construe the text’s relative silence as evidence that Ezra and Nehemiah were not contemporaries (“Who Came First,” 6).

97 Yamauchi , 9.

98 Neh. 8:1 , 2 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 9 , 13 ; 12:26 , 36 . For further treatment of this question, see Kidner , 148-49.

99 As Gleason L. Archer notes, “Nehemiah 8 only records a solemn reading of the law in a public meeting on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles. It by no means implies that Ezra had not been diligently teaching the law to smaller groups of disciples and Levites during the preceding twelve years.” A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 458.

100 Note the similarity between Ezra 9:1-2 and Exod. 34:11-16 and Deut. 7:1-4 .
Kidner , 68.

101 A. Cowley , Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923), 108-19. The papyrus gives the date of its composition as in the 17th year of Darius II.

102 Rowley , 155. Rowley, following Josephus (XI.7.1), also argues that Jehohanan was Eliashib’s grandson despite the fact that the text twice designates Jehohanan as the son of Eliashib (Ezra 10:6 ; Neh. 12:23 ). Rowley supports his contention with an unattested conjectural emendation of Jonathan the son of Joiada (Neh. 12:11 ) to Johanan the son of Joiada (154, n. 1). Walter C. Kaiser , on the other hand, accepts Jonathan as a variant spelling of Jehohanan. He regards the identification of Eliashib (Ezra 10:6 ) with the high priest in Nehemiah 12:23 as speculative since in the former passage Eliashib is not called a priest. However, he concludes by dismissing the whole question as too complex “to be used as a basis for making any sure chronological conclusion.” A History of Israel (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 439. There is, however, no Biblical evidence that /tnwy is a variant spelling of /njwy (Rowley , 154). David Suiter suggests that, since Ezra 10:6 does not identify Eliashib as the high priest and “other Eliashibs are mentioned in the text of Ezra; for example Eliashib of the sons of the Singers (10:24), Eliashib of the sons of Zattu (10:27), and Eliashib of the sons of Bani (10:36)[, i]t is conceivable that the Eliashib of the Singers or his son may have had a domicile in or near the temple where Ezra could have gone to prepare for the marriage reform” (168).

103 Frank Moore Cross has suggested an alternative solution to this problem. He argues that two generations of high priests (Eliashib I and Johanan I) have fallen out of the Biblical genealogies between Joiakim and Eliashib (Neh. 12:10 ). He bases this suggestion on the high frequency of papponymy in the Samaria papyri. “A Reconstruction of the Judean Restoration” JBL 94 (1975): 4-18. Unfortunately, the absence of any supporting textual or versional data leaves this suggestion without an adequate basis for acceptance, despite its attractiveness. For a more text-based solution, see Benjamin E. Scolnic ’s extended treatment of this subject, Chronology and Papponymy: A List of the Judean High Priests of the Persian Period (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999).

104 Rowley admits, “It would seem to be wiser … to confess that certainty is quite unattainable, and that no more than a balance of probability is to be found” (142-43).

105 As Suiter concludes, “There is no external support for reversing the missions; the internal evidence for reversing the missions is strained from the outset by the manufacturing of incongruities subjectively conceived and then accumulating these to make the case for reversing the missions and the text” (275).

106 “The narrative that we already have must surely take precedence over the narratives that we do not have. And apart from the prior claim of the actual over the hypothetical, [none of the contrary arguments] is of sufficient weight to counterbalance the vast improbability that our author, devoted as he was to detail, and having access to the first-person records of his principal characters, had no idea of how these men related or failed to relate to one another, nor of who preceded whom” (Kidner , 158).

107 “In all the narrative part of the Old Testament, there is nowhere else such an appearance of chaos as in the story of Ezra, as it stands in our received text. Part of it is found in one place and part in another. Moreover, the two principal fragments, thus separated from each other, are incoherent in themselves… . The sequence of the several scenes is plainly out of order; the chronology is all wrong; and the bearing of the successive (?) [sic] incidents upon one another is far from clear.” Ezra Studies in The Library of Biblical Studies, ed. Harry M. Orlinsky (New York: Ktav Publishing House, Inc., 1970), 253. Torrey represents the most radical views in critical Ezra scholarship. He denies that the person Ezra ever existed (247-48). For a summary of the evolution of critical thought regarding Ezra, see the Introduction to the above cited edition of Torrey ’s Ezra Studies.

108 Loring W. Batten , A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1913), 4-5.

109 Jacob M. Myers asserts, “The confusion of the materials in these books is abundantly clear to any observant reader in our present arrangement.” Ezra-Nehemiah, vol. 14 of The Anchor Bible, ed. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1965), xlii.

110 Raymond A. Bowman , “The Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah,” in The Interpreter’s Bible, ed. George Arthur Buttrick (New York: Abingdon, 1954), 3:560.

111 S. R. Driver rejects Keil ’s suggestion that Ezra 4:6-24 follows a thematic arrangement, finding it more probable that the compiler misunderstood the subject of this section. An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 548. Robert H. Pfeiffer bluntly states that Ezra 4:6-24 “is obviously misplaced. The Chronicler erroneously confuses the opposition to the building of the city walls with the opposition to the rebuilding of the Temple at a much earlier date… . The Chronicler misunderstood these texts and placed them in the wrong context.” Introduction to the Old Testament (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1941), 829.

112 Torrey , 255-58.

113 A. Gelin, Le livre de Esdras et Nhmie, La Sainte Bible (Paris: Les ditions du Cerf, 1953), 14, cited in Myers , xlv.

114 Wilhelm Rudolph , Esra und Nehemia samt 3 Esdras, Handbuch zum Alten Testament (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1949), xxii.

115 Norman H. Snaith , “The Date of Ezra’s Arrival in Jerusalem,” ZAW 63 (1951): 53-66. Snaith assigns the sections he omits to later hands.

116 John Bright , A History of Israel, 2d ed. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1972), 394. Even critics who maintain the Biblical order of Ezra and Nehemiah base their position on equally subjective reasons. For example. Cyrus H. Gordon says, “My adherence to the older view is not prompted by tradition alone. More cogent are considerations rising from the fact that the practical administrator Nehemiah would be needed to straighten out the failure of the impractical scribe Ezra, rather than vice versa.” Introduction to Old Testament Times (Ventnor, NJ: Ventnor Publishers, Inc., 1953), 270. Those who find it incredible that Ezra’s reform could fail should consider again the ministries of Moses and Jeremiah (Kidner , 153).

117 Batten provides a prime example of this approach. With neither textual support nor substantial scholarly precedent, he states, “The passage [4:1-3 ] is obviously out of place… . It is tempting to transpose this section to follow 3:9 . The connection would then be all that is desired” (126). Concerning 4:7-24 a he asserts, “In MT. [sic] the passage stands between the Hebrew and Aramaic stories of the temple-building, that is, in the reign of Darius, an obvious absurdity… . by placing the section just before Nehemiah we get an exceedingly good connection” (160-62).

118 Torrey ’s appeal to silence hardly commends his argumentation. The fact that Ezra’s narrative does not include a specific record of his reading or teaching the law certainly does not constitute proof that Ezra did not do so. As Torrey notes, chapter nine’s events imply a knowledge of the law (254). Torrey ’s assumption, however, that Ezra must have read the law for the Jews to be aware of it is unwarranted. The narrative repeatedly notes the carefulness of the post-exilic community in following the law (3:2 , 4 , 5 ; 6:18 ) and the directions of King David (3:10 ) as it renewed sacrificial worship. Awareness of the law’s requirements did not hinge upon Ezra’s fresh reading.

119 Torrey , 254

120 Cross contends that in the Qumran evidence the “importance and priority of the Hebrew recension of Ezra underlying the Greek of 1 Esdras has been vindicated… . In parallel passages, 1 Esdras proves on the whole to have a shorter, better text [than MT Ezra], and … its order of pericopes reflects an older, historically superior recension of the Chronicler’s work (Chronicles, Ezra)” (“A Reconstruction of the Judean Restoration,” JBL 94 (1975): 7-8). Joseph Blenkinsopp , however, rejects Cross ’s analysis and asserts: “Comparison between these fragments and MT on the one hand and 1 Esdras on the other does not support Cross ’s theory of a corresponding contrast between a conflate Palestinian and a succinct Egyptian text of the book” (72). Eugene Ulrich ’s analysis of the 4QEzra fragments runs contrary to Cross ’s as well: “4QEzra … demonstrates that the Massoretic textus receptus of each of the books has been very faithfully preserved from one of the plural forms of the text which circulated in the Second Temple period.” “Ezra and Qoheleth Manuscripts from Qumran,” in Priests, Prophets and Scribes: Essays on the Formation and Heritage of Second Temple Judaism in Honour of Joseph Blenkinsopp , ed. Eugene Ulrich, et al. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992), 153. Perhaps most noteworthy in this regard is the fact that the text preserved on the fragment of 4:9-11 (Palestine Archeological Museum number 41.301) has no parallel in 1 Esdras.

121 Admittedly, the order of events presented in 1 Esdras differs significantly from that of Ezra. First Esdras sketches Jewish history from the time of Josiah to Ezra’s reading of the law. However, the order of 1 Esdras is, as H. H. Rowley observes, even more convoluted than Ezra’s “since [in 1 Esdras] the parallel to Ezra 4:7-24 precedes the first return from the exile.” Men of God: Studies in Old Testament History and Prophecy (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1963), 221. Blenkinsopp regards “1 Esdras … [as] a clearly articulated and complete narrative dealing with the restoration of true worship by, successively, Josiah, Zerubbabel, and Ezra.” In his view, the odd order of 1 Esdras was an attempt “to correct the chronology of the canonical Ezra but without understanding the rationale for the latter’s ordering of the material” (Ezra-Nehemiah, 71-72).

122 The mention of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes in proper historical order (6:14 ) indicates that Ezra knew the correct order. Ezra brings the narrative to the time of Darius in 4:5 , then explicitly returns to the time of the same king. It is obvious that he knows he is making a digression (Williamson , 58).

123 Conservative authors embracing this position include Matthew Henry , Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, new modern ed. (1708, reprint; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991); W. B. Pope , “Ezra,” in vol. 2 of Ellicott’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, ed. Charles John Ellicott (n.d., reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959); J. Glentworth Butler, ed. The Bible-Work (New York: The Butler Bible-Work Company, 1894); Robert Jamieson , Joshua-Esther, in vol. 7 of A Commentary Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, ed. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown (n.d., reprint; Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1948). Adam Clarke , Clarke’s Commentary on the Old Testament (1840, reprint; Albany, OR: SAGE Software, 1996).

124 D. L. Emery , “Ezra 4—Is Josephus Right after All?” JNSL 13 (1987): 33-43. The medieval Jewish scholars Abraham ibn Ezra and Levi ben Gershom (Ralbag) also regarded Ezra 4 as chronologically straightforward, but their rationale differs so radically from other commentators holding this position that they hardly fit in the same camp. Following the Talmudic chronology of the Persian kings (Darius the Mede [371-70 B.C.E.], Cyrus [370-67 B.C.E.], Ahasuerus [367-353 B.C.E.], and Darius the Persian [353-318 B.C.E.]), they regard both Ahasuerus (4:6) and Artaxerxes (4:7-23) as the same king who reigned between Cyrus and Darius the Persian. Yosef Rabinowitz , The Book of Ezra (Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1984), 58, 116. They justify this titular use of the name Artaxerxes from a Talmudic gloss on Ezra 6:14 in Rosh Hashanah 3b, “It has been taught: Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes were all one. He was called Cyrus because he was a worthy king, Artaxerxes after his realm, while Darius was his own name.” I. Epstein , ed., Seder Mo’ed, trans. Maurice Simon (London: The Socino Press, 1938), 9.

125 Flavius Josephus , “The Antiquities of the Jews,” in The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Albany, OR: SAGE Software, 1996), XI.2.1-2. Josephus further identifies the Biblical “Artaxerxes,” under whose administration both Ezra and Nehemiah return, as Xerxes, the son of Darius (Antiquities, XI.5.1-6), and the Ahasuerus of Esther as Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes (Antiquities, XI.6.1). The primary point in favor of Josephus’s account is the fact that the LXX consistently translates vwrwvja (Ahasuerus) in Esther as Artaxerxh" (Artaxerxes).

126 1 Esdras 2:1-30 parallels Ezra 4:8-23 .

127 Josephus gives no account for Ahasuerus because, in all probability, he was using 1 Esdras as his primary text, and 1 Esdras omits the verse that mentions Ahasuerus (Ezra 4:6 ).

128 Matthew Henry , 2:804. John Gill , An Exposition of the Old Testament (1810; reprint, Sherwood, IL: Primitive Baptist Library, 1979), 3:110.

129 Emery , 33, argues that “Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes in Ezra 4 are the same person, and that person is correctly identified by Josephus as Cambyses (520-522 B.C.).” He challenges the modern consensus that the Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes in Ezra are Xerxes (486-465 B.C.) and Artaxerxes I (465-425 B.C.) with two questions: “Ahasueros of MT Esther must be the Artaxerxes of Greek Esther, so how can we be sure that they are different in Ezra? And who was the Ahasueros who helped conquer Nineveh in 612 B.C. (Tobit 14:15)? Surely not Xerxes!” Several flaws vitiate Emery ’s argumentation. First, he ignores the significantly divergent ways in which LXX translates vwrwvja: Artaxerxh" (Esther); Xerxh" (Dan. 9:1 , LXX); Asouhro" (Ezra 4:6 ; Dan. 9:1 LXXq). Second, in his use of Asouhro" in Tobit 14:15 (LXXAB) to argue that the identity of Ahasuerus must be left open, Emery ignores the alternate, historically accurate textual tradition (LXXa) for Tobit 14:15 that identifies the king who conquered Nineveh as Cyaxares (Aciacaro"). Third, he fails to explain why the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7 should be regarded as distinct from the Artaxerxes of Ezra 4 when both the MT and LXX maintain uniformity in their references to them. Fourth, Emery frequently appeals to his own subjective sense of what is more or less probable, while offering no hard evidence to support his conclusion. He states, for example, “It is not likely that ‘of the temple’ was added erroneously to 1 Esd. 2:18 . It looks far easier to accept that Ez. 4:12 is defective. It is hard to imagine why any editor should add the words ‘of the temple.’ By contrast there is every reason why ‘of the temple’ should be dropped from Ezra, once the mistake of Artaxerxes for Cambyses had crept in” (37; See also pages 34 and 38 for similar subjective reasonings.).

130 Pope , 460; Butler, 502; Jamieson , 590.

131 Milton S. Terry , Kings to Esther, vol. 4 of Commentary on the Old Testament, ed. D. D. Whedon (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1875), 405.

132 “This Artaxerxes has been thought by many commentators to be the Longimanus of the sequel of this book and of Nehemiah, and they have identified the Ahasuerus of Ezra and Esther with Xerxes. This would explain the reference to ‘the walls’ in verse 12 ; but in verses 23 and 24 the sequence of events is strict, and the word ‘ceased’ links the parts of the narrative into unity. Moreover the Persian princes had often more than one name.” Pope , 467. In fairness to Pope, it should perhaps be noted that he follows the preceding quote with this statement: “At the same time, there is nothing to make such an anticipatory and parenthetical insertion impossible.”

133 C. F. Keil , “Ezra,” in vol. 4 of Commentary on the Old Testament, trans. Sophia Taylor (1866-91; reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), 45-46. F. U. Schultz , The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, trans. and ed. Charles A. Briggs, Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, ed. Philip Schaff (1871; reprint, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, n.d.), 47-48. Other older conservatives rejecting this position include Gustav Oehler , Theology of the Old Testament, 427-30; and E. W. Hengstenberg , History of the Kingdom of God (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1872), 2:299.

134 For a helpful discussion and explanation of other historical inaccuracies in Josephus’s Antiquities XI, see C. G. Tuland , “Josephus, Antiquities Book XI: Correction or Confirmation of Biblical Post-Exilic Records?” Andrews University Seminary Studies 4 (1966): 176-92.

135 A survey of the 57 occurrences of this particle in Ezra and Daniel easily confirms the immediacy it normally communicates.

136 Resumptive repetition is a device in which an author inserts “into a text AB an expansion X … according to the pattern AXAB.” Berhard Lang , “A Neglected Method in Ezekiel Research,” VT 29 (1979): 43. In reference to narrative literature, H. G. M. Williamson qualifies this definition: “[Resumptive repetition] … need not involve verbally exact repetition, so long as the resumption is clear, and … is used precisely to allow the inclusion of material germane to the author’s main purpose which does not, however, exactly fit his narrative sequence.” “The Origin of the Twenty-Four Priestly Courses: A Study of 1 Chronicles xiii-xxviii,” in Studies in the Historical Books of the Old Testament, ed. J. A. Emerton (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1979), 265. Shemaryahu Talmon appears to be the first one to have applied this specific literary principle to Ezra 4 , though commentators have frequently noted the link between 4:5 and 4:24 . “Ezra, Book of,” The Interpreter’s Bible Dictionary, Supplementary Volume (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1979), 322. Blenkinsopp identifies another example of resumptive repetition maintaining “narrative continuity” in the use of hxbqaw in 7:28 and <xbqaw in 8:15 (164).

137 Iranische Beitrge I (Halle: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1930). Regarding vwrwvja, Schaeder states, “Die aram. Schreibung vryvj ist aus dem zweiten, vrayvj aus den fünfzehnten Jahre des Xerxes belegt. Das gestattet den Schlu, da die letztere Schreibung die allmhlich durchgeführte offizielle ist… . Dies stimmt zur Etymologie und zu der … metrischen Struktur der (lteren) Achmenideninschriften. In den Inschriften des Xerxes fordert das Metrum, den Namen viersilbig zu lesen. Die verdorbene alttestamentliche Form vwrwvja, gelesen ahashweros … geht nicht auf die reichsaram. Schreibung zurück, sondern auf eine der spteren akk. Schreibung hi-si-ar-si(u) verwandte, die noch an einer Stelle, Esther 10:1 als Kethib vrvja erhalten ist und dann mit falschen matres lectionis aufgefüllt wurde” (269-70). In regard to vsvjtra, Schaeder concludes, “vsvjtra die offizielle reichsaramaische Schreibung des Namens Artaxerxes ist… . die BA-Schreibungen atcvjtra und atsvjtra … meinen artaxsasta bzw. artaxsasta und beruhen auf dem … Versuch, die Lautform des Namens, der den Exulanten von 458 besonders gelufig war, noch feiner zum Ausdruck zu bringen als die offizielle Schreibung” (268). For a similar philological analysis and conclusion, see Robert Dick Wilson , A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament (Philadelphia: The Sunday School Times Company, 1926), 78-80.

138 For example, Batten comments, “In reading a historical book it is desirable to have the material in proper chronological order… . It is deemed best in a few particulars to undo the mischief of [the] R[edactor]… . Ezra’s history is combined and placed where it probably belongs chronologically” (5). For Torrey , the crowning support for his cut-and-paste job is that it finally makes sense of the Ezra’s mangled chronology (253-54). He states that the appropriateness of his reconstruction “is … attested by the chronology. The dates given in such profusion throughout the narrative are now all intelligible for the first time. No other single fact could give so striking a vindication as this …” (260).

139 Even as perceptive an exegete as Milton S. Terry found the identification of Ahasuerus with Xerxes and the Artaxerxes of 4:7 with that of chapters 7-10 “utterly incompatible with the order of time evidently followed in this book” (406). Emery makes a similar appeal to the “very natural and orderly progression” obtained by following Josephus (43).

140 For example, Herbert Edward Ryle states, “The introduction of the times of Xerxes and Artaxerxes into this chapter interrupts, we must admit, the thread of the narrative… . The insertion of these ‘anticipatory’ fragments seems to us undoubtedly harsh. But it is very questionable whether in a work of such composite character it is not more natural to find occasionally an instance of harshness or inartistic arrangement due to compilation, than everywhere the smooth orderliness of the skilful modern historian.” The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, ed. A. F. Kirkpatrick (Cambridge: University Press, 1923), 66.

141 Among the critical scholars who take this position are Joseph Blenkinsopp , H. G. M. Williamson , and Jacob Myers . Myers does not present a clear position: on the one hand he delves extensively into rearrangement theories in his introduction (xlii-xlviii), while in his commentary he calls 4:6-16 “illustrations from a later period drawn upon to show how the peoples of the land frustrated the efforts of the people of Yahweh” (36). Peter R. Ackroyd , also a critical scholar, notes that “it is possible for us to see a good theological reason for the Chronicler’s present arrangement of the narrative.” I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah (London: SCM Press, 1973), 251. A partial listing of conservative authors who espouse this position includes R. K. Harrison , Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), 1139-40; Edward J. Young , An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1958), 381ff.; Edwin M. Yamauchi , “Ezra-Nehemiah,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985), 4:634; Mervin Breneman , Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, vol. 10 in The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 99; and F. Charles Fensham , The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, ed. R. K. Harrison (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), 70.

142 Eskenazi , 40. The two other primary themes Eskenazi develops are the people and written documents, that is, “the centrality of the community as a whole with a concomitant shift away from the heroic exploits of so-called ‘great men’; [and] … the centrality of the written text as a source of authority… . These themes combine to articulate a particular ideology which shuns heroes and affirms a life bound by communal effort … .” Ibid.

143 “Building the house of God implies, by virtue of these letters, the building of the city and the walls. The tasks are mere extensions of each other” (Eskenazi, 55).

144 Eskenazi , 54.

145 She cites 1 Kings 6-7 ; 2 Chronicles 3-4 , Ezekiel 41 , and Daniel 5:3 as instances in which the temple, the tyb, is greater than and distinguished from the lkyh. She concludes that “these examples indicate that in the postexilic era lkyh was not necessarily coterminous with the house of God but sometimes constituted only a portion of the house of God” (54-55).

146 Eskenazi , 54.

147 She argues that the mention of Artaxerxes in 6:14 indicates that the house of God was not finished—only the temple phase was done. She buttresses her conclusion that no finality is indicated in this passage with Batten ’s argument that in 6:15 the hapax legomenon ayxyv followed by du should be read, “they continued the work until” (56, n. 42). The preposition is difficult, but the verb itself denotes completion (LXX: telew; 1 Esdras 7:5 : suntelew), and though unusual, the context seems to demand that one understand du as indicating the point by which the temple work was completed. Eskenazi also regards both the little space accorded the celebration of the second temple’s completion (6:16-19 ) in contrast to the celebration of the first temple’s completion (spanning several chapters in 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles) and the supposedly incomplete dimensions given by Cyrus for the temple reconstruction (6:3 ) as giving further indication that the rebuilding of the house of God was yet unfinished (56-57).

148 Ezra 1:4 , 5 ; 2:68 ; 4:24 ; 5:2 , 16 , 17 ; 6:3 , 12 ; 7:16 , 17 ; 7:27 .

149 Ezra uses the phrases hwhy tyb and <yhla tyb synonymously in reference to the temple in 3:8b and 3:9. In Ezra 3:10, “the builders founded the [hwhy lkyh]” and in 3:11 all the people shouted in praise because “the [hwhy tyb] was founded.”

150 For a similar analysis and rejection of Eskenazi ’s position, see David Kraemer , “On the Relationship of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah,” JSOT 59 (1993): 74-77.

151 Keil , 45; Schultz , 53; Blenkinsopp , 106; Kidner , 48; Yamauchi , 634; Fensham , 70-71; Williamson , xlix; Frederick Carlson Holmgren , Israel Alive Again: A Commentary on the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987), 30.

152 Jacob Myers contends that the author placed these later historical occurrences here in an attempt to justify the long delay in rebuilding the temple. In other words, Ezra was preeminently concerned with justifying the Jews and any excuse would do, even if it was monstrously anachronistic (33-34). Blenkinsopp takes a similar view, though he exonerates the author from deliberate misuse of history (105).

153 Kidner , 48; Williamson , 57, 65.

154 Williamson , xlix-l.

155 Ibid., 57.

156 Kidner , 48

157 As Sternberg notes, “the problem of ordering … [does not] resolve itself with the decision to follow time. Where precisely to begin along the chronology, where to end, still must be determined. And here choice widens into an indefinitely large set of possibilities, so that the actual cut-off points gain salience from all the might-have-beens: the less predictable the cutting, the more perceptible” (“Telling in Time (I),” 931).

158 See Chapter Three for an evaluation of the significance of the final episode’s lack of denouement.

159 Sternberg discusses these aspects of time as the ratio of “represented time (i.e., the duration of a projected period in the life of the characters) to representational time (i.e., the time that it takes the reader, by the clock, to peruse that part of the text projecting this … period).” Expositional Modes and Temporal Ordering in Fiction (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978), 14. Sternberg ’s treatment of this topic is unparalleled.

160 “If we note the variations in narrated time in relation to narration time, ranging from scenic representation to summary account, we will discover the narrative’s focal points and the relative importance of its various subjects.” Bar-Efrat , Narrative Art in the Bible, trans. Dorothea Shefer-Vanson, 2d ed. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989), 151.

161 Technically, it is unlikely that there is ever an actual one-to-one correspondence between external and internal time, even in verbatim quoting, since the dynamics of pause and pace in speech cannot be reflected in ordinary prose.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines