The book of 1 Esdras is essentially a carefully selected compilation of text from 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Interspersed within the condensed text from these other sources is the story of a contest between three of the king’s bodyguards. The bodyguard Zerubbabel wins. As a reward Zerubbabel receives permission to return to Jerusalem, where he becomes its governor.
There is some naming confusion about this book, with some Bibles labeling this text as 3 Esdras, since they call the book of Ezra, 1 Esdras, and the book of Nehemiah, 2 Esdras.
First Esdras is an Apocrypha book and not included in all versions of the Bible. The Revised Standard Version (RSV), Common English Bible (CEB), Wycliffe Bible (WYC), Greek Orthodox Bible, Ethiopian Bible, and the original Authorized King James Version (KJV) all include 1 Esdras. However, it was removed from the KJV almost two centuries after it was first published. The Septuagint, an ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, which was widely used in Jesus’s day, also contains 1 Esdras.
For more information, see why “Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.”