Study Questions: Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah/Malachi and Daniel

    The last two classes deal with a very complicated period of Hebrew history, and I will end up lecturing for most of these classes rather than leading discussion.  It will help, however, if you read through some portions of the books listed above. Also, it’s well worth recording your thoughts on these readings in your journals.

1.    Read Ezra Ch. 1 and Ch. 3-7.  What difficulties do the Jews face as they try to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple?  What helps them overcome these difficulties?  Note especially the role of leaders like Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Haggai, Zechariah, and Ezra himself.  Also note the contrasting attitudes of Persian leaders, e.g., Cyrus and Artaxerxes.

2.    Skim through Nehemiah.  Note that much of this book is Nehemiah’s account of his own role in helping the rebuilding of Jerusalem and in restoring the Jewish people.  Note the problems he faces.  What does Nehemiah seem proud of in terms of his own record/conduct?  What obstacles does he face?  What seems to be his motivation?

3.    If you have time, skim through Haggai and Zechariah.  Note the problems in the Jewish community that these two prophets address.  How would their prophetic message have helped in rebuilding Jerusalem and in helping reforms among the Jewish people?  What aspects of their teachings might have helped the Jewish people survive even after the temple was destroyed and the Jews were removed from their land again?

4.    Read all of Malachi.  What is the condition of the Jewish people as he writes?  What are the particular problems he addresses?  How is the situation different from that addressed by earlier prophets, e.g., Isaiah and Jeremiah?  What keys to Jewish survival do you see here?

5.    If you have time, look at the visions in the second half of the book of Daniel.  Is there anything here that seems key to the survival of the Jewish people?  How would having the book of Daniel have helped the Jewish people go through difficult times, e.g., the time of Antiochus Epiphanes?