- A. Cyrus's Decree (1:1–11)
- B. List of returnees (2:1–70)
- C. Altar Rebuilt: Temple Begun (3:1–13)
- D. Opposition to Rebuilding (4:1–24)
- E. Completion of the Temple (5:1–6:22)
The events of the first six chapters took place long before the time of Ezra. These chapters span approximately twenty-two years (538-516 b.c.) and deal with the return of several groups of Jews from exile and their attempts to reestablish their religious roots in their homeland. Rebuilding the temple was their first priority since it was the focus of their religious and national identity.