Who is Ezra?
(help). 1. A descendant of Judah. 1 Chr 4:17. 2. A Jewish priest and scholar who lived in Babylon during the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus, over whom he had such influence that in his seventh year he obtained permission to head a large company of persons and go to Jerusalem, b.c. 457. Ezr 7. The journey was completed in four months. In addition to the treasure brought, Ezra had other supplies, for he had permission to draw on the king's treasures. In Jerusalem he carried through the reforms he had intended, particularly the separation of the "strange wives." Ezr 10. With an account of this important measure the book of Ezra ends. The next notice is in Nehemiah 8:1, thirteen years after this. It is in every way likely that his first residence in Jerusalem was temporary, and that after effecting the various reforms and appointing proper persons to maintain them he returned to Babylon. Nehemiah was governor when Ezra entered Jerusalem the second time; accordingly, he attended only to priestly duties, such as teaching. Neh 8:1. It is unknown when he died. Jewish tradition elevates him to a level with Moses and Elijah, and makes him the founder of the great synagogue, the collector of the books of the Bible, the introducer of the Chaldee character instead of the old Hebrew, the author of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and lastly, the originator of synagogue-worship. And it is very likely that he was the author of these changes, or at all events that they occurred in his time. Ezra, the Book of, covers about 79 years, and should be read in connection with the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah. It contains, (1) chs. 1-6, an account of the return of 50,000 Jews under Zerubbabel in the first year of Cyrus, the rebuilding of the temple, and the interference of the Samaritans; (2) chs. 7-10, the history of Ezra's immigration and his reforms, particularly in regard to the strange wives. The book of Ezra is written in Chaldee from ch. 4:8 to 6:19, narrating the attempt of the Samaritans to hinder the building of the temple, and from the beginning of ch. 7 to the twenty-seventh verse. The people recently returned from the Captivity were more conversant with the Chaldee than even with the Hebrew tongue. Ezra is the author of at least the greater part of the book. The date may be given as b.c. 456.