Ezra 7

Ezra Goes Home

King Artaxerxes

Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia . . . (Ezra 7:1)

The relief shown here comes from Persepolis. Scholars generally believe that Darius I is depicted sitting on the throne, with his heir Xerxes (Ahasuerus) standing behind him. Darius I was the grandfather of Artaxerxes I. This relief can be taken as a reasonable depiction of how Artaxerxes I would have been portrayed, had such a depiction of him survived. This famous relief carving of the Persian court was photographed at the National Museum of Iran.

Leaving Babylon

This Ezra went up from Babylon (Ezra 7:6).

The city of Babylon was enormous, with numerous gates that gave entrance. Given the relationship between Ezra and the royal court, it may not be too presumptive to suppose that when he left the city, he went by way of the Processional Way near the palace. The model shown here includes the area of the royal palace, the Ishtar Gate, the Processional way, and the massive religious complex associated with the worship of Marduk. This model was photographed at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Approaching Jerusalem

On the first day of the fifth month, he came to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:9).

The exact route taken by Ezra is not given, but they could have traveled south along the ridge route, passing through the heartland of Samaria and the Benjamin plateau, and approached the city from the north. That option is illustrated here by a view along the road approaching Jerusalem from the north. This American Colony photograph was taken between 1898 and 1914.

A Copied Letter

Now this is a copy of the decree that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe (Ezra 7:11).

It seems almost certain that this copy given to Ezra would have been in Aramaic, and thus written in ink on papyrus. The fact that Ezra was given a copy confirms that the original would have been kept for the royal archive. This sealed papyrus scroll was photographed at the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa. The letter given to Ezra would have been sealed with the king’s ring.

Commissioned Scribes

To Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven . . . (Ezra 7:12)

The statue shown here dates to about a generation before Ezra. It portrays Udjahorresnet, an Egyptian priest, scribe and military leader during the reigns of Cambyses and Darius I. The autobiography on this statue suggests that Udjahorresnet was commissioned by Darius I in a way similar to how Ezra was commissioned by Artaxerxes I (Ezra 7:12-26). This 27th-dynasty statue was photographed at the Vatican Museums.

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