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Bible Study for Jehovah's Witnesses: EZRA

 THE DIVINE NAME JEHOVAH AND THE 70 YEARS EXILE

WHAT'S THE CONNECTION?



1:1-11 Are the wills of men independent of God's SOVEREIGNTY? (esp. v.5; See also 7:27; compare Exodus 31:1-11; 36:1-5; Haggai 1:14; Philippians 2:13)

2:1-70 What did the remnant returning from Babylon realize was the primary reason for their release? (compare 1:5 with vv.59,62-63,68-70) The priority and time of the Temple's rebuilding is central to the significance of the 70 years of Jer. 25:11; in turn, the beginning and termination of this period are crucial to the GENTILE TIMES (appointed times of the nations, NWT) dogma, which fixes 1914. See Daniel 9 for that prophet's view of the relation of the 70 years to Yahweh's worship.

3:1-13 For those returning, the restoration at Yahweh's worship in Jerusalem was a proof of what? (v.11; compare Jer.31:1-6; Psalms 117,136)

4:1-24 What do vv.12-20 indicate was the local understanding as to the beginning of Gentile rule over Jerusalem? Connect the rebellious city (NAS) with the last days of the former Temple. -- 2 Chronicles 36:10-14. The rebellious king was actually Nebuchadnezzar's puppet appointee, vassal king Zedekiah. Independent Israelite rule of Jerusalem was therefore over long before the destruction of Solomon's Temple and the city, from which event The Watchtower dates the appointed times of the nations (Luke 21:24).

5:1-17 When asked for authorization by pagan officials, how did Jewish elders designate the Deity? Why would Jews of such obvious religious conviction avoid the use of the Tetragram? Compare Joseph before Egyptians,including Pharaoh (Genesis 39:9; 40:8; 41:16, 25, 28, 32, 51, 52), Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar's court (Daniel 2:28,29,37,44,45; 4:24,25,26). According to The Watchtower, Joseph & Daniel are good examples of/for Jehovah's Witnesses. What happened?

6:1-12 What does even Persian King Darius seem to realize about the connection of the NAME and the temple?

6:13-22 Only after which event do the sons of Israel seek (NAS), search for the God of Israel by His NAME? (esp. v.21; compare 3:10,11)

7:1-28 Why wouldn't Artaxerxes, despite his evident fear of the God of Jerusalem (NAS, v.19), use the Tetragram? It is widely acknowledged by O.T. scholars that God of Heaven (vv.12,21,23) is a circumlocution to avoid the use of the NAME -- out of reverence, not reluctance born of disrespect. Artaxerxes follows the pattern of Nebuchadnezzar, who likewise learned to fear the God of Israel (v.15) without becoming a "Jehovah's Witness". -- cf. Dan.12:47; 4:2,3,34-37. Notice too the contrast with Ezra (vv.27,28), who is returning to Jerusalem, the restored temple worship, and covenantal use of the NAME in the land.

8:1-36 According to Ezra's faith (v.22), of what was the safe return of the exiles an evidence?Again, note the context of the ONLY uses of the NAME (v.28,29,35). It may be a fruitful study to compare the lists of names of individual returnees in Ezra 1 and Ezra 8. The comparative scarcity of compounds containing the short form --IAH (Jah) in chapter one is a likely indication that the generation of Jews born in Babylon did not feel free to use the covenant NAME. That sentiment may well have changed by the time of Ezra's return, a generation or more after the restoration of temple worship in Jerusalem. See also chapter 10 list.

9:1-15 When praying regarding the guilt and unfaithfulness of His people, what form of address does Ezra use to his God? What contrast do we observe when Ezra praises God for His grace (v.8; favor, NWT) and righteousness (v.15)? (Note also Shecaniah's admission, 10:2-4)
Compare Daniel, who only uses the NAME when beseeching Yahweh's covenant renewal and revival -- Daniel 9.

10:1-44 When urging all the restored remnant to COVENANT separation from their foreign wives, what form of address does Ezra encourage them to adopt in confessing to God? (vv.3,11) God of your fathers is no redundant appendage. It is a reminder of Yahweh's covenant faithfulness, in contrast to Israel's unfaithfulness (vv.10,13). Compare the contemporary exhortation of Malachi (1:2; 2:4-10; 3:6,7; 4:4-6).

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