The “post-exilic” period is the era of Israel’s history after the Captivity. The prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that the Babylonian Captivity would continue 70 years (Jer. 29:10). At the end of those 70 years, the Jews returned from Babylon to their homeland. This era is also called the Restoration. During these years, the Jews were busy restoring the city of Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah.
biblical books of the postexilic era
Historical Books Prophetic Books
The Restoration era lasted approximately years, from the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC until the end of the reign of Artaxerxes in 424.
The Restoration era takes place during the Empire. Four of the first five kings of Persia relate to the Biblical account.
| ! Name
| ! Date of Reign
| ! Relationship to the Old Testament
| !! Cyrus the Great
| 539-530 | His edict freed the Jews from the Captivity Era (II Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-2, 7-8; Isaiah 44:28) |
|Cambysses||530-522||Not mentioned in Scripture|
|Darius I (the Great)||522-486||Temple rebuilding completed during his reign (Ezra 4:5, 24; 5:5-7; 6:1, 12-15; Haggai 1:1; Zechariah 1:1)|
|Xerxes (Ahasuerus)||485-465||Persian king who made Esther his queen (Esther 1-10) Also mentioned in the book of Ezra (4:6)|
|Artaxerxes I||465-424||King of Ezra and Nehemiah Initial refusal to allow rebuilding of Jerusalem (Ezra 4:7-8, 19-23)|
(1) The (First) Return of (Ezra 1-6). Cyrus’ decree in his first year (538) freed the Jewish exiles to return to their homeland and commissioned them to rebuild the Temple. This first return would have taken place in 538 or 537; its primary focus was the rebuilding of the Temple. The Temple was finally finished in 516/15—approximately 20 years after the Jews returned.
(2) The (Second) Return of (Ezra 7-10). This return to Judah took place in the seventh year (458) of Artaxerxes, king of Persia. The primary focus of Ezra’s return was spiritual reformation, but some physical restoration of the land also took place (Ezra 9:9).
(3) The Story of (Esther 1-10). During the 58-year gap between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7, the events in the book of Esther took place. Esther was queen during the reign of Ahasuerus (known in secular history as Xerxes), king of Persia. The events in Esther 1-9 take place between the third year and the twelfth year of Xerxes—482-473 BC.
(4) The (Third) Return of (Nehemiah 1-13). This return took place in the 20th year of Artaxerxes (445 BC), king of Persia. Nehemiah returned to the land of Judah with the primary purpose of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. He accomplished this purpose in 52 days, but he continued as governor in Jerusalem for 12 years (Nehemiah 5:14; chs. 7-12)—until 433. He then went back to Shushan in Persia for a brief time and returned to Jerusalem for a second term as governor.
| ! reference
| ! Events
| ! Date
| !! Ezra 1-6
| The first return under Sheshbazzar | 538-515 |
|Esther 1-10||The story of Esther the queen||482-473|
|Ezra 7-10||The second return under Ezra||458|
|Nehemiah 1-6||The third return under Nehemiah||445|
|Nehemiah 7-12||Nehemiah’s first term as governor||445-433|
|Nehemiah 13||Nehemiah’s second term as governor||??|