We start the book of Ezra today. According to Harris's Understanding the Bible (Seventh Edition):
The Book of Ezra pictures the difficult conditions that prevailed in the postexilic community of Judah, then a small part of the vast Persian Empire. The Persian emperor authorizes Ezra, a priestly scribe returned from Babylon, to reorganize the restored Judean community according to the principles of the Mosaic Torah. To prevent assimilation with the Gentile population, Ezra forbids intermarrige between Judeans and foreign women.
Although Ezra and Nehemiah probably formed a single book originally, the two histories present conflicting information about the sequence of events they record. Part of the confusion arises because we do not know who first returned to help rebuild Jerusalem -- the priest-scribe Ezra or the Persian-appointed governor of Judah, Nehemiah.(Note that although I link the Wikipedia article, I think the summary there is only okay. And no, I don't feel like improving it right now.)
We start today where the books of Chronicles left off. Cyrus of Persia has let the Jews return to Judah. Which means... more lists! After the lists, we learn that not many people chose to return to Jerusalem. 42,360 people plus 7337 servants and singers. I suppose that after a couple generations, people had acclimated to their new home.
We also read this interesting little story:
Three families of priests—Hobaiah, Hakkoz, and Barzillai—also returned. (This Barzillai had married a woman who was a descendant of Barzillai of Gilead, and he had taken her family name.) They searched for their names in the genealogical records, but they were not found, so they were disqualified from serving as priests. The governor told them not to eat the priests’ share of food from the sacrifices until a priest could consult the Lord about the matter by using the Urim and Thummim—the sacred lots.Annoyingly, it looks like we never get to learn what happened to these families.
There is nothing I can say about this reading without getting bitchy or angering someone else, so I'm just not going to say anything at all. Fortunately, since I don't actually believe that Paul's writing has any eternal significance, I am free to just dismiss it as annoying.
Psalms and Proverbs
Today's second proverb is very similar to one we have seen before:
The Lord detests double standards;
he is not pleased by dishonest scales.