The Temple was completed in the sixth year of the king of Persia as is stated in Ezra 6:15. This occurred in Adar, the 12th month of the Jewish year. In the following month during the Passover season the Jews dedicated the Temple. Chapter seven of Ezra begins with the words: “Now after these things…” Obviously, this refers to what occurred after the completion of the Temple and its dedication, namely, Ezra gained a release from the king of Persia in the seventh year of his reign. It all seems to fit – the seventh year always follows the sixth year – but the rub is that traditional thought would have us believe that because Darius is the king in chapter six and Artaxerxes is mentioned in chapter 7, that these are two different kings. Can this be true? No! This is another case of vain tradition making the word of God of no effect. There is direct continuity intended here as we shall see.
The book of Ezra can be divided into five natural parts by language, alternating Hebrew and Aramaic portions.
|Written in Hebrew||Written in Aramaic|
|Ezra 1:1 to Ezra 4:7 – from the command of Cyrus to rebuild the Temple to the letter written to Artaxerxes to stop the building of the Temple and the walls of the city.||Ezra 4:8 to Ezra 6:18 – from the command of Artaxerxes to stop the building of the Temple to the finishing and dedication of the Temple.|
|Ezra 6:19 to Ezra 7:11 – from the keeping of the first Passover at the finished Temple of God to the release of Ezra, the priest, the scribe of the Law of God||Ezra 7:12 to Ezra7:26 – All fifteen verses is a copy of the letter Artaxerxes had given to Ezra, granting a third release of the captives that had not yet gone back to Jerusalem. Its contents describe the king’s offering to God and empowered Ezra to both teach and enforce the Law of God in Jerusalem.|
|Ezra 7:27 to Ezra 10:44 (end) – from the coming of Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of God to the repentance of Judah and the putting away of their foreign wives.|
Concerning the third division above (Ezra 6:19 to Ezra 7:11), doesn’t it seem odd, if we accept traditional chronology, that Ezra’s return is so distant from the rebuilding of the Temple, when Scripture seems to indicate that his return immediately followed it (one year later)? Doesn’t it also seem odd that the national repentance described in Ezra 10 should be so short lived? That is, in only eleven to thirteen years, according to traditional understanding of the time of Nehemiah’s arrival, the whole nation would be committing the same sins – intermarrying with neighboring nations. Is it not also peculiar that thirteen years later, if traditional thought is to be believed, that Ezra would not take part in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and neither would any of the men of integrity who returned with him? What effect did Ezra have, if traditional thought is to be accepted? Traditional chronology would make the work of God through Ezra of no effect whatsoever! Traditional understanding would conclude there was no real repentance at all at the coming of Ezra, and the word of God made much ado over nothing! But of course God performed a wonderful work through Ezra, this man is revered as a second Moses in Jewish literature.
It is important to realize that up to this time no more than 49 years had passed since the exiles returned from Babylon under the leadership of Zerubbabel, their governor, and Jeshua, the chief of the priests. Secular history has this period much longer, but secular chronology and Biblical chronology do not always match up. How could they, if the timeline of secular history is based upon the fabricated works of second century CE astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy?
It is important for Christian scholarship to choose the correct historical figure and not be intimidated into supporting the fabricated designs of a man whose works were invented to support his own religious beliefs, rather than representing the truth. Cyrus gave the only commandment that is recorded in Scripture to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple of God. Those after him permitted the rebuilding to go forward only after seeing his decree written down. The kings at that time could not be contradicted, once they wrote out their commandment (Daniel 6:8, 12, 15; Esther 1:19). Therefore, Cyrus’ command had to be honored, if the reigning king expected his own commands to have any lasting effect upon his nation after his own death.
Whether we like it or not, bible students are stuck with Cyrus. There was no other decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. The decree made by Artaxerxes in Ezra 6 was to search the palace in Babylon for the decree made by Cyrus. When it was found, the king commanded and wrote his own decree to his governor in Syria not only to let the work in Jerusalem alone but to support it with the king’s funds and the king’s livestock. Therefore it was the decree of Cyrus, made in 457 BCE (80 years later than is supposed) that we must focus upon.
This concludes the first part of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy. The 7-weeks of years end here. They began at the Feast of Trumpets when Zerubbabel and Jeshua raised up the altar on the Temple mount, thus restoring of the daily sacrifice and then celebrated of the Feast of Tabernacles (Ezra 3:1-6). They end with the dedication of the walls on the Feast of Trumpets in 408 BCE. The first 49-years of the 490-years are complete. The word of God to men ended with the repentance of Israel and the signing of a covenant to obey the Law of Moses. This undertaking took from the end of the Feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month to the first day of the first month (Nehemiah 9:1-3, 38; Ezra 10:9, 16-17). Thus began a famine of the word of God for 62 sevens (434-years), until John the Baptist came to prepare the way of the Messiah and the beginning of the final week of seven years.
 Compare the names ‘Ezra’ & ‘Nehemiah’ in Easton’s and Smiths Bible Dictionaries and the International Standard Biblical Encyclopedia. All claim Nehemiah came after Ezra by eleven to thirteen years.