“Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah . . . This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which YHWH God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of YHWH his God upon him.”
During the Second Temple period, few Old Testament characters hold a more prominent position than Ezra. The Bible identifies him as a priest and scribe. It is believed that he was the author of the book of Ezra as well as Chronicles. Both of these accounts provide valuable insights into the triumphs and tragedies of the Judean captives’ efforts in rebuilding the Second Temple and Jerusalem.
As we learned in the previous chapter, after the completion of the temple in the sixth year of Darius, Ezra in the seventh year of the reign of a Persian “Artaxerxes” desired to return to Jerusalem and teach the people the law of YHWH. What is unclear from the text is the precise identity of this Persian Artaxerxes. For well over two centuries, biblical scholars have identified this Artaxerxes as the Persian king Longimanus, circa 464–424 BC. It’s a handy identification, allowing Daniel’s 70 sevens, interpreted as 490 years, to take us straight to the life of Yeshua. Considering the importance of Ezra’s history to our understanding of Daniel 9, you might assume this Old Testament chronology would be well established upon a reasonable biblical basis. Surprisingly, this is not the case. If you find that hard to believe, Continue reading