Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reader's Diary /492- The Good News Bible: Ezra

Sometimes I look forward to getting back to my Bible readings, other times it feels like homework. This was one of the latter. Fortunately, it was a relatively short book and there were a lot of lists, so it made for good, quick skimming. Telling the story of the Jewish exiles returning to Babylon, the second chapter is primarily a cataloguing of each returning Israel clan: Parosh 2172, Shepathiah 372, etc.

It's also somewhat uplifting at the beginning. Despite the fact that the Jews had been driven out and were now fortunate enough to be allowed back, they risked it all by rebuilding their temple and worshipping again, despite the opposition. I admired their dedication. Then, through a series of document searches and researches to see what past emperors had decreed (if anything, there's a moral about keeping good paperwork), the Jews were ordered to stop and allowed to begin again.

Unfortunately, it's when the title character showed up that I found it disheartening. In a display of xenophobia, Ezra forced the Jewish men to abandon their foreign wives and children. It ends with a list of which men had committed this "sin."

Of particular interest to me in this book was a switch to the first person from Chapter 8, verse 15 up to the end of chapter 9 (presumably told by Ezra himself). Why it suddenly and without warning switched and dropped the point of view like that is a mystery to me, not to mention confusing me briefly. Any theologians out there want to clear this up?

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