This is the order in which the argument can best be built up, and, although I have used only the words 'probability' and 'likelihood', I feel myself that the case is very much stronger than that.In order to estimate the likelihood on general grounds of the modern reconstruction, it is necessary to reach some conclusion about the authorship and date of the Books.The most that we can say of this reference for the moment is that it confirms the fact still further that the author or compiler of the Book believed that Ezra was the contemporary of Nehemiah, and that therefore he, like Nehemiah, came to Jerusalem during the reign of Artaxerxes I.
But this omission might be because Ben-Sira is speaking only of the rebuilding of the Temple and the city, or, as Lods suggests, it might be due to a certain lack of sympathy between a writer of Sadducean tendencies and one of Ezra's strict views.
Therefore, in making Ezra overlap Nehemiah, the Chronicler intended to place Ezra also in the same reign. This latter verse cannot be checked against 1 Esdras, since that book closes with the verse that corresponds in the Hebrew to Nehemiah viii. The only other reference to Ezra in the narrative of Nehemiah is in xii.
36, where, in a record of the dedication of the wall that is ostensibly from the memoirs of Nehemiah, it is said of a part of the procession, 'Ezra the scribe was before them.' This [p.7] single reference, meagre though it is, would be sufficient to establish the fact that Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries, if it were not for the suspicion that here the Chronicler has himself composed the account or added this clause.
Permission is granted, and in a matter of weeks the city wall is finished, in spite of opposition from Sanballat and others. Naturally we should not expect any mention of Nehemiah in the period covered by the Book of Ezra, but, after Nehemiah had come to Jerusalem and was engaged on the building of the wall, one would have expected that Ezra's name would have occurred somewhere, if only as one of the builders who are named in chapter iii.
Ezra is then summoned to read the Law to the assembled people, and the Book records a covenant that all the people made. At first sight this history appears to be straightforward enough. Not until chapter viii does Ezra appear, when he is summoned to read the Law to the people. In I Esdras it occurs immediately after Ezra has dealt with the mixed marriages, i.e.
In particular there are three notable passages which, they say, would be more understandable if Ezra came some time after Nehemiah. 9 where Ezra says in his prayer, 'Our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the ruins thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.' Ezra refers to 'a wall', and yet the wall was built by Nehemiah. 1 we read of 'a very great congregation' that assembled in Jerusalem. A sudden drop in the population between the time of Ezra and that of Nehemiah is unlikely.