Week 8

The southern kingdom, or Judah as it was known, was finally carried into exile in 586 BC.  However the deportation actually began in 605 BC and a second phase occurred in 597 BC.  Just as the Jews left the land in three phases, they will return to the land in three phases.  Zerubbabel went with the first group, followed by Ezra, and then Nehemiah the third time.

The glory years are behind the nation of Israel.  Indeed, they are not even referred to as Israel much any longer as they have not been a complete nation in over 500 years at this time.  Instead the people are called Jews in reference to the tribe and kingdom of Judah which were the people who were carried into exile.

A relatively small group, only 50,000 people, return to rebuild their homeland.  They do so under constant opposition and they are not a free people.  Even though they’ve been given some relative freedom they are still subject to the Medes and Persians, followed then by the Greeks, and then the Romans at the time of Christ.  Israel will not be a free nation again until 1948 AD following the atrocities of World War II.

Required reading

Ezra

Nehemiah

Haggai

Corresponding articles and videos on this site

We have written on topics covered in this lesson.  You can either read the article or watch the video, both cover the same material.  These provide good supplemental thoughts to go with your Bible reading and may help you answer some of the questions below.

Assignment

God has been with the Israelites from the time of Abraham through the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  Write a 500 word paper (approximately two pages double spaced) using examples of how you see God has been with the nation of Israel.

Optional reading 

A History of Israel: From the Bronze Age Through the Jewish Wars – chapter 28

An Historical Survey of the Old Testament – chapter 10

Discussion questions

The first question is required.  You may choose any of the remaining two questions to answer.  Answers should be 100 words or more. You are welcome to use resources that you may have or search the internet for help.

1) According to 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 & Jeremiah 25:11-12 why were the Israelites in captivity for 70 years?  Why is 70 years significant?

Answer two of the following:

2) Who allows the Jews to return home?  Why?  See Isaiah 44:21-45:5 in addition to your required reading.

3) The book of Esther depicts life for the Jews who didn’t return to their homeland.  Why do you believe so many Jews remained in Babylon?

4) What can we learn about prayer from the book of Nehemiah?

5) Research the importance of the position of cupbearer and discuss why Nehemiah’s position is so important.

6) Why do you believe Ezra & Nehemiah are so concerned about the issue of intermarriage?  Do their reactions to this issue surprise you?

 

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