An unscheduled assembly in Jerusalem. Three times each year, all the people of Israel were to gather in Jerusalem: Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The unscheduled meeting in 10:9 took place in early winter, when it would have been cold and rainy in Jerusalem.
How long was the journey from Babylon to Jeru­salem? It took Ezra and the caravan he was traveling with four months to traverse the nearly 900 miles (1,448 km) from Babylon to Jerusalem. An army could have traveled much faster, but Ezra’s entourage probably included children and elderly people.
How long did it take to rebuild the temple? The Jews returning from exile faced many obstacles in rebuilding the temple. The non-Jewish people now living in the land resisted their efforts, and the returned exiles often lacked the motivation to work. The temple took 20 years to complete, and it fell far short of the grandeur of Solomon’s temple.
The Behistun Inscription. This 50-by-80-foot (15-by-24 m) inscription was carved into the face of a cliff in western Iran. Using various languages, it provides an autobiography of Darius’s life, lineage, and victories as king of Persia.
Beyond the River was the name given by Persian rulers to their province that included Judah and Israel (4:11). The “River” refers to the Euphrates River, running through present-day Iraq. From the perspective of people living in Persia, Israel was indeed “beyond the river.”
Joppa was 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Jeru-salem on the Mediterranean Sea and was a major seaport. Joppa had the only natural harbor in all of Palestine. Though the surrounding reefs made it dangerous for ships to enter the harbor, it was still greatly valued because of its strategic location for trade with the west.
Darics (2:69) were gold coins used throughout the Persian Empire. These coins were often called “archers” because of the image of an archer stamped on the face. When one particular king remarked that 30,000 archers had run him out of his kingdom, he was implying that he had been bribed to give up his throne.