1st Esdras has been given various names. In the Greek LXX this book is titled IEsdras while our canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah combined are titled 2Esdras. In the Latin Vulgate our book of Ezra is 1Esdras; Nehemish is 2Esdras and this book is titled "3Esdras" In the KJV it is titled "1Esdras".
1st Esdras is synoptic (parallel) to Ezra-Nehemiah and reproduces the material of 2Chron. 35:1-36:23; most of Ezra and Neh. 7:38-8:12 along with one added narrative. The additional narrative (3:1-5:6) recounts how three of Darius' guards (one of whom is Zerubbabel) debate which is strongest: wine; the king, women or truth. Zerubbabel argues that women are stronger than a king, but that truth is stronger than either. His argument is so good that Darius rewards him by allowing him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
This book is clearly of ancient Jewish origin. The First Century Jewish Historian Josephus tends to follow 1Esdras rather than the canonical account in Ezra-Nehemiah in his history of the time period. Also Josephus regards the additional narrative as historical fact and includes a version of it (Ant. 11:3:2) in his Antiquities of the Jews.
1Esdras was cited as an authoritative source by Clement of Alexandria, right along side Tobit:
...and Tobias, through the assistance of the angel Raphael,
married Sarah, the demon having killed her seven first suitors; and after the
marriage of Tobias, his father Tobit recovered his sight. At that time
Zorobabel, having by his wisdom overcome his opponents, and obtained
leave from Darius for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, returned with Esdras to
his native land; and by him the redemption of the people and the revisal
and restoration of the inspired oracles were effected; and the passover of
deliverance celebrated, and marriage with aliens dissolved.
(Clement of Alexandria; THE STROMATA 1:21 )
1st Esdras is part of the canon of the Greek Septuagint and is regarded as canonical by the Eastern Orthodox; Armenian Apostolic and Ethiopic Orthodox Churches. As was part of the Roman Catholic Canon until Pope Clement VIII moved it to an Appendix in the back of the vulgate in the 17th Century.
The book of 1Esdras was originally written in Hebrew, but the original Hebrew seems to have been lost. All modern translations have been made from the Greek version. The original Hebrew seems to have survived as recently as 1611. The translators of the 1611 Edition KJV included marginal notes to their text of "1Esdras" giving alternate renderings of words from "the Hebrew" (in such passages as 3:13; 4:14; 7:5, 9; 8:23, 32, 50, 57, 66, 79, 96). At least two of these marginal notes are to words found in the additional narrative (3:1-5:6) and could not have refered to parallel readings in Ezra/Nehemiah.
Everything in the Scriptures is there for a purpose, so what is the purpose for 1st Esdras? The vast majority of this book rehashes material found in 2Chonicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, with completely new material only appearing in the account of the three bodyguards in the court of King Darius in 3:1-5:6. (This book is synoptic (parallel) to Ezra-Nehemiah and reproduces the material of 2Chron. 35:1-36:23; most of Ezra and Neh. 7:38-8:12 along with one added story.) So why is this book there? Why not simply include the story of three bodyguards alone, or incorporate that story into the Book of Ezra? Why was Ezra inspired to write a second book? And why was it a book HaSatan tried so desperately to get out of your Scriptures?
The answer is that 1st Esdras is about the return of Judah after the Babylonian captivity. It is a type of the restoration of the House of Judah. In recent blogs I have written about the Apostasy and Restoration and the implications of Isaiah 29 and Romans 11 for Restoration of the ancient sect of Nazarene Judaism. 1Esdras includes the material that it includes, in just the order that it does, so as to teach us a typological message about the restoration we are experiencing right now!
The book begins with a brief recount of the last days of the Kingdom of Israel (1Esdras 1:1-58 parallels 2Chron. 35:1-36:21).
The book moves on to the decree to return to the Land of Judah (1Esdras 2:1-15 parallels Ezra 1:1-11 & 1Esdras 2:16-30 parallels Ezra 4:7-24) but then gives us the additional information about the three bodyguards in Ezra 3:1-5:6)
The added story (3:1-5:6) recounts how three of Darius' guards (one of whom is Zerubbabel) debate which is strongest: wine; the king, women or truth. Zerubbabel argues that women are stronger than a king, but that truth is stronger than either. His
argument is so good that Darius rewards him by allowing him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
Why is this story here? It is here to teach us something. In Ezra 1:1-11 and 4:7-24 Ezra tells us about the decree to return of the House of Judah, but 1Esdras tells us that this return was fueled by a revelation Zerubavel received while yet in the captivity, a revelation of the strength of truth so as to overcome all things.
In the story we are presented with three things that are strong, but not as strong as truth: wine, kings and women. These represent the strength of Babylon, which is no match for the strength of truth!
Wine brings on drunkenness and delusion and is often associated in the Scriptures with apostasy:
9 Stupefy yourselves, and be stupid! Blind yourselves, and be blind: you that are
drunken, but not with wine; that stagger, but not with strong drink.
10 For YHWH has poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your
eyes: the prophets and your heads, the seers, has He covered. (quoted in Rom. 11:8)
11 And the vision of all this is become unto you as the words of a writing that is sealed,…
(Isaiah 29:9-11 HRV)
Bavel has been a golden cup in YHWH’s hand, that made all the earth drunken. The
nations have drunk of her wine, therefore the nations are mad.
(Jer. 51:7 HRV)
Kings represent political and military might. This brings to mind the political and military might of the Beast of Revelation 13:
1 And I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast coming up from the sea that
had ten horns and seven heads: and upon his horns, ten diadems, and upon his head,
the name of blasphemy.
2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and his feet like those of a bear, and his mouth [was] like that of lions. And the dragon gave to him his power, and his throne, and great authority.
3 And one of his heads was, as it were, wounded to death: and he was resurrected [from] the wound of death, and the whole world was amazed after the beast.
4 And they worshipped the dragon, because he gave authority to the beast. And they
worshipped the beast saying, Who is like this beast, and who is able to make war with him?
(Rev. 13:1-4 HRV)
Finally there is the seductive power of women. This recalls the great whore of Babylon who seduces believers away from YHWH. The picture of the king’s concubine manipulation and control of the king in 1Esdras 4:28-32, recalls the unholy alliance between the Great Whore as she rides the Beast (Rev. 13)
All three of the great strengths of Babylon are pictured in Revelation 17 as the Great Whore rides the Beast with the cup of the wine of her fornication in her hand.
2 With whom the kings of the earth have fornicated, and all the inhabitants of the earth
have become drunk, from the wine of her fornication.
3 And he led me to the wilderness in the Spirit: and I saw a woman who was sitting
on a red beast that was full of names of blasphemy; that had seven heads and ten
(Rev. 17:2-3 HRV)
Thus wine, kings and woman represent the strength of Babylon.
Zerubavel agrees that wine is strong and that kings are stronger, but he also realizes that both of these are just tools for the Great Whore. Zerubavel recognizes that stronger than these three strengths of Babylon is truth which is strongest of all!
Upon their coming out from Babylon, Judah begins to a restoration based on this revelation that truth overcomes all of the strength of Babylon.
The first thing they do is to “Begin to build the House of YHWH” (1Esdras 6:2). Likewise, based upon the revelation of truth, this last days restoration and coming forth from Babylon began by beginning to rebuild the spiritual House of YHWH, the Assembly of Elohim, built not of stones, but of believers:
19 Henceforth, you are neither strangers nor foreigners, but sons of the city, who are sanctified, and sons of the house of Eloah.
20 And you are built upon the foundation of the emissaries and of the prophets: and Yeshua the Messiah has become the head of the corner of the building.
21 And in Him all the building is fit together and is growing into a Set-Apart Temple in YHWH,
22 While also you are built in Him, for a habitation of Eloah, by the Spirit.
(Eph. 2:19-22 HRV)
Of course Ephesians tells us that the unity of this body is built upon its leadership:
11 And He gave some: emissaries, and some prophets, and some proclaimers, and some pastors, and some teachers,
12 For the perfecting of the Set-Apart-Ones: for the work of the service; for the
edification of the body of the Messiah,
13 Until all of us become one and the same, in the Trust and in the knowledge of the Son of Eloah: and one complete man, according to the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Messiah.
14 And we should not be infants, who are shaken and turned about by every wind of the deceitful teachings of the sons of men, who by their craftiness are plotting to deceive:
(Eph. 4:11-14 HRV)
And likewise Ezra’s Restoration of the House of Judah also involved the restoration of the Beit Din:
23: And you, Ezra, according to the Wisdom of Elohim ordain judges and justices, that they may judge in all Syria and Phenice all those that know the Torah of your Elohim; and those that know it not you shall teach.
Finally Ezra’s Restoration of the House of Judah involved reading the Torah to the people, teaching it, and explaining its meaning to them:
38: And the whole multitude came together with one accord into the broad place of the set-apart porch toward the east:
39: And they spake unto Ezra the cohen and reader, that he would bring the Torah of Moshe, that was given of the Adonai YHWH of Yisrael.
40: So Ezra the chief cohen brought the Torah unto the whole multitude from man to woman, and to all the cohanim, to hear Torah in the first day of the seventh month.
41: And he read in the broad court before the set-apart porch from morning unto midday, before both men and women; and the multitude gave heed unto the Torah.
42: And Ezra the cohen and reader of the Torah stood up upon a pulpit of wood, which was made for that purpose. …
45: Then took Ezra the Book of the Torah before the multitude: for he sat above them all honorably in the first place in the sight of them all.
46: And when he opened the Torah, they stood all straight up. So Ezra blessed Adonai YHWH Elyon, the Elohim of hosts, Almighty.
47: And all the people answered, Amen; and lifting up their hands they fell to the ground, and worshipped YHWH.
48: Also Yeshua, Hanan, Sherevyah, Adinus, Akuv, Shabtai, Auteas, Maianeas, and K’lita, Azaryah, and Yozavad, and Ananias, Biatas, the L’vi’im, taught the Torah of YHWH, making them all to understand it.
49: Then spake Attharates unto Ezra the chief cohen. and reader, and to the L’vi’im that taught the multitude, even to all, saying,
50: This day is set-apart unto YHWH; (for they all wept when they heard the Torah:)
51: Go then, and eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send part to them that have nothing;
52: For this day is set-apart unto YHWH: and be not sorrowful; for YHWH will bring you to honor.
53: So the L’vi’im published all things to the people, saying, This day is set-apart to YHWH; be not sorrowful.
54: Then went they their way, every one to eat and drink, and make merry, and to give part to them that had nothing, and to make great cheer;
55: Because they understood the words wherein they were instructed, and for which they had been assembled.
(1Esdras 9:38-55 parallels Neh. 7:74-8:12)
Likewise in this Last Days Restoration of the House of Judah we must teach the Torah to the people whom have been called out of Babylon so that they may understand it.
Babylon has strength in the wine of her deception and in the political and military might of her kings. She may keep the masses drunk with her wine and controlled with her kings, but she is no match for the strength of truth by which true Nazarene Judaism is being restored in these last days!
And that is why HaSatan did not want you to have 1st Esdras in your Bibles!
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