Ezra


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Related to Ezra: Book of Ezra, Ezra Pound

Ezra

, persons in the Bible
Ezra, in the Bible. 1 Central figure of the book of Ezra. 2 Priest who returned with Zerubbabel.

Ezra

, book of the Bible
Ezra, book of the Bible, combined with Nehemiah in the Septuagint to form the book 2 Esdras. In the Vulgate, Ezra and Nehemiah are called 1 and 2 Esdras respectively. Ezra, like Nehemiah, is the work of the Chronicler (see Chronicles) and narrates the history of the Jews from 538 B.C. to c.458 B.C. as follows: the decree of the Persian king Cyrus permitting the Jews to return to Palestine from captivity under the leadership of Sheshbazzar; the return of Zerubbabel with a certain number to Jerusalem in c.520 B.C. where they complete the task of rebuilding the Temple despite opposition; and the return of Ezra, priest and scribe, to Jerusalem in c.458 B.C. with orders from King Artaxerxes I to restore the Jewish law. It is possible, however, that Ezra might have returned after Nehemiah in c.398 B.C. during the reign of Artaxerxes II. The text is not clear which Artaxerxes is meant. A substantial passage of Ezra is in Aramaic. See also Esdras for books purportedly written by Ezra in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.

Bibliography

See F. C. Fensham, Ezra and Nehemiah (1982); M. A. Thronveit, Ezra–Nehemiah (1992).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ezra

 

(also Esdras). Dates of birth and death unknown. A descendant of the Zadokites, high priests of the Temple in Jerusalem. Reformer of Judaism.

In the mid-fifth century B.C., Ezra arrived in Jerusalem at the head of a group of Jews returning from the Babylonian exile. He made changes in the ritual and appears to have carried out the first codification of the Pentateuch. In other reforms, Ezra prohibited marriages between Jews and those who had not converted to Judaism, and all Jews were obliged to learn the basic tenets of Judaism. It has been suggested that Ezra introduced a square Aramaic script, which gradually supplanted the Canaanite (Paleo-European) script.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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