To show the continuation of the history of God’s church, it has pleased the Holy Ghost to end the preceding second book of the Chronicles with the same words with which this book begins, in which the Holy Ghost, by Ezra the priest and scribe, has set down unto us how wonderfully God has delivered His people out of the seventy years’ captivity of Babylon. According to His promise, Cyrus, king of Persia, who, having subdued the Babylonian monarchy unto himself, publishes, by God’s influence, liberty for the Jews to return to their land and to build the temple serving this with all kinds of preferential treatment. Upon this many of the people, whose spirit God stirred up, under the discretion of Zerubbabel the prince and Jeshua the high priest, went up and built the altar of the Lord, offered sacrifice unto God, and kept the feast of tabernacles, etc. Thereafter they laid the foundation of the temple, but were not able to finish the building at that time, because their enemies which were round about them, being denied in their crafty request of joining together with them in the building, and having one common worship or religion with them. They prevailed so much at court by their evil practices, that the building was hindered in the following years of Cyrus, Ahasuerus, Arthasastha (commonly called Artaxerxes) until the second year of king Darius. When they, being stirred up and encouraged by the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, resumed the building of the temple, and by a very gracious and earnest command of Darius, who was informed about it by his deputy or governor, they finished it at last, having dedicated the temple, and performed therein their service of God. For a while after, when things again were fallen into decay among the people of God, Ezra the priest was, by God’s special direction, at his request, sent by king Arthasastha, in the seventh year of his reign, with a great number of people to Jerusalem, with a very liberal grant of all necessaries, and with a full charge to redress and settle all things aright according to the law of God, which Ezra performed with great zeal and faithfulness. This is also why this book (because he wrote it) bears his name. Concerning the chronology or account of time, the learned, who have made it their work, do not agree in opinion about it, in regard that the kings and years of the Persian monarchy are not counted one way only, and forasmuch as there be several opinions among them concerning these four kings, who followed after Cyrus, namely, Ahasuerus and Arthasastha the first, under whose reign the building of the temple was hindered. Then who was this Darius, under whom the temple was finished, and further who was Arthasastha the second, who sent Ezra to settle all things aright, and afterward also sent Nehemiah to build up the walls, gates and city of Jerusalem of which something is recorded in its due place, in order that the judicious reader may choose what he perceives best. However, this remains always sure and constant, that all these things were done under the Persian monarchy, which took its beginning from this Cyrus. This history begins from the first year of his reign at Babel, extending itself unto the seventh year of king Arthasastha the second, and further some time thereafter, as the following history of Nehemiah begins from the twentieth year of the king’s reign just mentioned.