"The chequered story of the Kings, a matter of nearly five centuries, had ended disastrously in 587 B.C. with the sack of Jerusalem, the fall of the monarchy and the removal to Babylonia of all that made Judah politically viable. It was a death to make way for a rebirth."
So begins Derek Kidner in this introduction and commentary to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah which chart the Jews' return from exile to Jerusalem and the beginnings of that rebirth. As the drama unfolds, we see how international politics, nationalist pride, wise leadership, political intrigue and opportunism, internal dissension and compromise all shape events. But above all and through all we see the good hand of God at work.