Summary of the Book of Ezra
Ezra is the first book in the post-exilic period of Israel. King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel and carried the Jews away as captives in 606 BC. Israel was under Babylonian control until approximately 536 BC when the Medo-Persian Empire took control. The book of Ezra begins its history at the beginning of the Medo-Persian rule.
Author of Ezra
Ezra is the author of the book and is also the main character in the story starting in chapter 7 (Ezra 7:1, 11, 25, 28; 8:15-17, etc.). Though the book does not specifically claim Ezra as the author, the writing style changes from third person in chapters 1-6 to first person for the rest of the book. This coincides with when Ezra became the leader of the people out of Babylon headed to Jerusalem. He was a priest and the son of Saraiah (7:1-5). Ezra was a scribe which are sometimes called lawyers in the New Testament (7:6, 21). He was a godly man (7:10).
The book was written shortly after Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in 458 BC. It covers the history of Israel for the years 536 to 456 BC. The book starts where the book of 2 Chronicles ends and is a continuation of that book which is apparently written by the same author.
Ezra, like the books of Chronicles, was written some time between 460 and 440 BC.
Purpose of Ezra
While there is no specified audience (like the other historical books), Ezra is clearly writing to outline the history of the re-establishment of Jerusalem. This book covers a period of about 80 years. The book opens with the first wave of Jews returning to Jerusalem. Then 78 years later there is a second group who came to the city to rebuild.
The first group was led by Zerubbabel and is covered in chapters 1-6. Ezra led the second group in chapters 7-10.