Ezra & Nehemiah

Those who returned from Babylonia sought to reclaim Judah's former glory, despite major challenges.

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The prophets who spoke about the period of the return, whose prophecies are recorded in Isaiah 40-66, and in the books of Zechariah, Haggai, and Malachi, dealt with these challenges not by denying the returnees’ grandiose hopes, but by prophesying “delayed fulfillment.”  Someday, Jerusalem's victory "will go forth like brightness, and its salvation will burn like a torch" (Isaiah 62:1). Someday, "the glory of this later temple will be greater than that of the first" (Haggai 2:8). Someday, but not immediately.

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Shawn Zelig Aster is Assistant Professor of Bible at Yeshiva University.