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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Date and Place of Composition.

1.

Despite the fact that many of the scenes of the Ezra and Nehemiah story take place in the eastern diaspora in the Persian empire (so reminiscent of court stories such as Daniel and Esther), the movement of the narratives is clearly towards the resettled community in Judah. The narrative ends rather suddenly after the rededication of the temple in Neh 11–12 , followed by some after-thoughts in ch. 13 . We do not know the fate of either Ezra or Nehemiah.

2.

Although we know of important events in the Persian period from Greek sources (pre-eminently Herodotus, Hist.), none of these is explicitly referred to in Ezra or Nehemiah. This is particularly problematic given that this was a notably unstable era in the Persian empire (Dandamaev 1989: 351–4). Despite this, the memoirs surely arose within a short time of the work of both Ezra and Nehemiah, and the correspondence between local and imperial Persian officials in Ezra 1–6 may well date from the time of the Persian emperors named. Thus, the events mentioned give us an earliest possible date for the traditions, beginning with the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus in 539 BCE. The last clear reference, Neh 12:22–3 , is to Jaddua, high priest at the time of Alexander the Great, according to Josephus, and dated to roughly 323 (Clines 1984: 222; Blenkinsopp 1988: 340), but this reference is almost universally considered to be an insertion by a very late hand, in order to bring the list down to the editor's time. It would therefore be hazardous to use this as an indication of the completion of most of the book, which was undoubtedly in more or less present form by the late fifth century (430–400 BCE).

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