This book is the record of events occurring at the close of the Babylonian exile. It was at one time included in Nehemiah, the Jews regarding them as one volume. The two are still distinguished in the Vulgate version as I. and II. Esdras. It consists of two principal divisions:
(1.) The history of the first return of exiles, in the first year of Cyrus (B.C. 536), till the completion and dedication of the new temple, in the sixth year of Darius Hystapes (B.C. 515), ch. 1-6. From the close of the sixth to the opening of the seventh chapter there is a blank in the history of about sixty years.
(2.) The history of the second return under Ezra, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and of the events that took place at Jerusalem after Ezra's arrival there (7-10).
The book thus contains memorabilia connected with the Jews, from the decree of Cyrus (B.C. 536) to the reformation by Ezra (B.C. 456), extending over a period of about eighty years.
There is no quotation from this book in the New Testament, but there never has been any doubt about its being canonical. Ezra was probably the author of this book, at least of the greater part of it (comp. 7:27, 28; 8:1, etc.), as he was also of the Books of Chronicles, the close of which forms the opening passage of Ezra.