I really struggled trying to understand Artaxerxes of Persia. I was confused between chapter 6's mention of him and chapter 4's mention of him. In one place he seems to be stopping the work of the building for fear of harm to the government, and in another section he's being credited with helping with the rebuilding. I struggled with this for awhile and came back the next day with fresh eyes to see if I could understand better. I now think that the chapter 6 reference refers to the Artaxerxes of the future chapters of Ezra where he continues with the rebuilding. My Bible does note that is some extended period of time between chapters 6 and 7 and some Google searching led me to believe they might be two different Artaxerxes. ( I dislike that I Googled, but it was an answer that could help me understand, maybe, and move on.)
I noticed a few times in readings lately that after big things change and occurrences happen, there is a celebration of the Passover. It is a very meaningful celebration to partake in.
Ezra 7:10 "Ezra worked hard to know and obey the Teachings of the Lord and to teach his rules and commands to the Israelites." I found this verse to be wonderful. It's a great reminder that we too need to be working hard to know the scriptures and know God. It is not easy, and our relationship doesn't come with out work!
Ezra 9:6 "I prayed, "My God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to life up my face to you, my God, because our sins are so many. They are higher than our heads. Out guilt even reaches up to the sky." I do sometimes feel the weight of my sin is heavy and I am terribly inadequate. Initially I thought I get this, but then I continued reading to see that Ezra knew this, threw himself down at the temple in tears over the sin and felt it to an extreme level. I am not like that. Do I not fully know my sins still? They are so many.
Ezra 9:15(b) "We admit that we are guilty and none of us should be allowed to stand before you."
I also thought it was worth of nothing that in the end of Ezra there is the discussion of the sin of marrying non-Jewish wives. Their solution is for those men to divorce their wives. It was a way of correcting sin. I thought this was a very interesting point that I don't think I have read or thought about before.