The Edict of Cyrus and notions of restoration in Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles
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The Edict of Cyrus which both opens Ezra-Nehemiah (Ezra 1:1-4) and closes Chronicles (2 Chr 36:22-23) is a peculiar doublet which serves a different role within each book. In Ezra-Nehemiah the edict is a command resulting in a failed past restoration event while in Chronicles it is instead a command anticipating a successful future restoration event. It is my contention that, within the context of canon, these different uses of the edict are theologically significant, especially in regards to formulating ideas concerning hope for the future in Chronicles—a topic of immense discussion, though a dialog which has to date lacking a complete and comprehensive study of the edict and its relationship to the concept of restoration. While Chronicles is consciously aware that a historical restoration event did in fact transpire sometime in the past (1 Chr 3:19-24; 9:2- 44), it shares sentiments with the idea of return present in Ezra-Nehemiah, namely, that of failure. It seems that the edict which closes Chronicles portrays the true, or rather complete, restoration as not a past event to be reflected upon but rather one that was anticipated sometime in the future, that time in which Israel was expected to experience the establishment of a new glorified temple, political independence, release from servitude, and the blessings of the new creation and cultic order. By examining Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles as two independent holistic works and evaluating the nature of restoration and the function of the edicts therein, it may be plausibly demonstrated that the two books share similar sentiments in regards to the historical returns from exile and even more that 2 Chr 36:22-23 is a programmatic conclusion to the book of Chronicles and is an expression of hope for future in contrast to what is perceived as the failed restoration events presented in Ezra-Nehemiah.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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