“Unit 21: Day 3, Ezra 7–10,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 21: Day 3,” Old Testament Study Guide
About 60 years after the temple was rebuilt at Jerusalem, Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, appointed Ezra to lead another group of Jews to Judah, and he provided him with money and supplies to beautify the temple. Ezra and his traveling companions fasted and prayed that God would protect them as they traveled nearly 900 miles to Jerusalem. Ezra was sorely grieved when he learned that some of the Jews in Jerusalem had married out of the covenant. He counseled the people to repent, and they made a covenant to put away their sins.
Read the following statement from Winston Churchill, a prime minister of the United Kingdom, and consider how it may relate to you: “To every man there comes … that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a special thing unique to him and fitted to his talent. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour” (quoted by Jeffrey R. Holland, “Sanctify Yourselves,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 40).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How do you think Winston Churchill’s statement relates to you?
As you study Ezra 7–10 you will learn about a man named Ezra, who prepared and qualified himself to have God’s help as he faced challenges and fulfilled his mission in life. As you study these chapters, look for principles that will help you prepare and qualify for God’s help as you fulfill your mission in life.
In Ezra 7:1–5 we learn that Ezra, who was a descendant of Aaron and who held the priesthood, lived in Shushan, the capital of Persia, when Artaxerxes reigned as the king of Persia.
Read Ezra 7:6, looking for how Ezra was described.
A scribe was someone who had the responsibility to study, copy, and teach the law as it was written in the scriptures. Ezra, as “a ready scribe in the law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6), was someone who had diligently learned the law of Moses and was gifted at explaining it.
According to verse 6, why did the king grant Ezra’s request?
In Ezra 7:7–8 we learn that Ezra and hundreds of Jews were allowed to leave captivity. They traveled approximately 900 miles (about 1,448 kilometers) from Shushan to Jerusalem, the homeland of their fathers. This journey was extremely dangerous because they had to travel through thief-infested deserts, and Ezra was concerned because of the large amount of gold, silver, and other treasures they were carrying to Jerusalem as a gift from Artaxerxes to beautify the temple.
Read Ezra 7:9, looking for what helped Ezra safely make the dangerous four-month-long journey from Shushan to Jerusalem.
The phrase “the good hand of his God upon him” in verse 9 means that God was blessing Ezra.
Read Ezra 7:10, and consider marking what Ezra did to invite God’s hand to be upon him.
The phrase “for Ezra had prepared his heart” implies that he had worked hard and tried his best to live and teach the Lord’s commandments. From Ezra’s preparations, we learn the following principle: As we try our best to fully live and teach the commandments, then the Lord’s hand will be upon us to bless our lives.
- Complete the following activities in your scripture study journal:
Write about a time when you felt the Lord’s hand in your life.
Explain how having the hand of the Lord upon you could help prepare you for future opportunities to do a good work.
Ponder what you can do to better live and teach the Lord’s commandments.
In Ezra 7:12–26 we learn that the Persian king Artaxerxes wrote a letter giving Ezra approval to take many Israelites with him to Jerusalem. This letter was remarkable because not only did the king allow some of his subjects to move back to their homeland, but he also gave them approval to take silver and gold with them so they could beautify the temple and buy animals to sacrifice there. In addition, the king gave Ezra responsibility to appoint government officials in Jerusalem.
Read Ezra 7:27–28, looking for Ezra’s response to King Artaxerxes’ generous letter.
In Ezra 8:1–20 we learn that Ezra listed the number of male Israelites who went with him from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Read Ezra 8:21–23, looking for what Ezra asked the people to do before they began their journey.
According to verse 22, why didn’t Ezra ask the king for a military escort from Babylon to Jerusalem?
In Ezra 8:24–30 we learn that Ezra divided the treasure among several people and gave them charge to deliver it safely to Jerusalem.
Read Ezra 8:31–32, looking for what God did for those who traveled with Ezra. The phrases “hand of the enemy” and “such as lay in wait by the way” in verse 31 refer to those who would try to stop the Israelites from returning to Jerusalem or rob them of the treasures they carried.
What blessing did Ezra’s group receive because they fasted and prayed?
Complete the following principle about what we can learn about fasting and prayer from this account: If we fast and pray, we can .
- In your scripture study journal, write about a time when you or someone you know fasted and prayed and received the Lord’s help with a challenge.
Think about a challenge you are facing in your life. Apply the principles you have learned in this lesson so you can receive the help you need from God.
Imagine that after learning about the seriousness of sin, a person feels a strong desire to repent but is not sure how to do it.
Have you ever wondered what you need to do to repent of your sins?
As you study Ezra 9–10, look for truths that can help you know what you need to do to repent of your sins.
Read Ezra 9:1–3, looking for what Ezra learned about the people when he arrived in Jerusalem.
Marriage is a sacred covenant, and the Lord desires that each married couple should work together to be worthy of the blessings of eternal marriage. The law of Moses forbade marrying idolaters and those worshipping false gods (see Deuteronomy 7:3–6). Yet many of the Israelites in Jerusalem had intermarried with these unbelieving people, which led them to follow false religious practices.
In Ezra 9:4–15 we learn that Ezra prayed and acknowledged the sins of the people. He also recounted the consequences that had come upon the Israelites in the past because of their sins.
In Ezra 10:4–9 we learn that Ezra called for all of the Israelites living throughout Judah to meet together at Jerusalem in three days.
Read Ezra 10:10–12, looking for what Ezra told the people when they came to Jerusalem.
It may have been very difficult for the Israelites to separate themselves from their family members who worshipped idols. Ezra 10:13–14 indicates that those who needed to repent and separate themselves from family members who worshipped idols were given time to do so—likely so that arrangements could be made for the care of those family members.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What does the people’s response in Ezra 10:12 reveal about them?
Based on what Ezra told the people, complete the following principle about what we must do to repent of our sins: To repent, we must and forsake our sins. Consider marking the phrases that teach this truth in Ezra 10:11.
The Lord expects us to do all that is required to repent of our sins, even when doing so is very difficult or painful. We must also separate ourselves from anything that keeps us from following the Lord.
As you read the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, look for what he taught about repentance: “I testify that of all the necessary steps to repentance, the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes in and through Jesus Christ. It is essential to know that only on His terms can you be forgiven. You will be helped as you exercise faith in Christ. [See 2 Nephi 9:22–24; Alma 11:40.] That means you trust Him and His teachings” (“Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 17).
You can exercise faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and receive forgiveness through the Atonement of Christ as you confess and forsake your sins.
Ezra 10:13–44 contains a list of those who had married “strange wives” (those who worshipped idols).
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Ezra 7–10 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: