How to Study Ezra
To better understand Ezra, look at Isaiah's prophecy in 44:28-45:7. This was written about 175 years before Cyrus was born.
Ezra falls into two main segments: chapters 1 through 6 and chapters 7 through 10. There is a lapse of approximately 58 to 60 years between these two segments.
Read this segment chapter by chapter and do the following:
In a distinctive way mark in the text the key words: house (or any reference to God's house), decree, the law (of Moses, of the Lord, of your God), commandments.
Pay attention to any references to time. Mark these with a clock ¹.
If specific people play a significant role, record their names in the margin and briefly describe what they did.
There are seven official documents or letters in the book of Ezra, all of which (except the first) were written in Aramaic, the international language of the times, The first document, written by Cyrus, the Persian king, is in Hebrew. These documents or letters are found in Ezra 1:2-4; 4:11-16; 4:17-22; 5:7-17; 6:2-5; and 6:6-12. The last one is in the second segment of the book, 7:12-26
Ask you come to each document or letter in the text, underline who presented it. Then in the margin list the major points of the document or letter. This information will help you keep track of the opposition the Jews faced and how God moved on their behalf.
After you finish reading each chapter, identify the main subject, theme, or event and record it in your Bible next to the chapter number and on Structure of Ezra.
The book of Ezra records when the temple construction began and when it was completed. Write this information in the margin in bold print so you can easily find it.
For a better understanding of the Jewish feast, consult the chart The Feasts of Israel.
This is the first time Ezra's name appears in this book. Note how he is described. Observe this man and the lessons you can learn from his life. List your insights in the margin under LFL, "Lessons for LIfe."
Mark key words as before, but add these to your list: every reference to sin (iniquity), abomination, unfaithfulness, etc.), fast, covenant, guilt, and remnant. Also, note your insights on the last official document in 7:12-26.
Watch for and mark reference to time and to kings. Note these as you did before.
Record the theme of each chapter as you did in the first segment of Ezra.
How does the second segment of Ezra, chapters 7 through 10, differ from the first?
Record the theme or subject of the first six chapter on Structure of Ezra under "Segment Division." Do the same for the last segment, chapters 7 through 10.
On the second line for segment divisions write in the name (s) of the central character (s) of each segment.
What is the theme or teaching of Ezra? Record this and any other requested information in the appropriate place on Structure of Ezra.
Key Words in the NIV and KJV
Key doctrines in Ezra
God's sovereignty - the Lord controlled and guarded the path of the Israelites from their exile to their return to the Promised Land (2:1; Gen 50:20; Job 42:2; Prov 16:1; Matt 10:29, 30; John 6:37; Rom 8:28)