Ezra

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Ezra,

book of the Bible, combined with NehemiahNehemiah,
originally combined with Ezra to form a single book in the Hebrew canon. In the Septuagint, Ezra and Nehemiah are combined as Second Esdras. The book narrates the return to Jerusalem of Nehemiah, the cup-bearer of Persian King Artaxerxes I, as governor of the
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 in the SeptuagintSeptuagint
[Lat.,=70], oldest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made by Hellenistic Jews, possibly from Alexandria, c.250 B.C. Legend, according to the fictional letter of Aristeas, records that it was done in 72 days by 72 translators for Ptolemy Philadelphus, which
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 to form the book 2 Esdras. In the VulgateVulgate
[Lat. Vulgata editio=common edition], most ancient extant version of the whole Christian Bible. Its name derives from a 13th-century reference to it as the "editio vulgata." The official Latin version of the Roman Catholic Church, it was prepared c.A.D.
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, Ezra and Nehemiah are called 1 and 2 Esdras respectively. Ezra, like Nehemiah, is the work of the Chronicler (see ChroniclesChronicles,
two books of the Bible, originally a single work in the Hebrew canon (the final book of that canon), called First and Second Chronicles in the Authorized Version, and called First and Second Paralipomenon in the Septuagint and in the Vulgate.
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) 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 SheshbazzarSheshbazzar
, in the Bible, exiled Jewish prince, later governor of a reestablished Jewish state centered in Jerusalem, commissioned (538 B.C.) by Cyrus to take back to Jerusalem the confiscated sacred vessels.
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; 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 EsdrasEsdras
[Gr. from Heb. Ezra], name of several books found in the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. The New Revised Standard Version (following the Authorized Version) maintains the titles Ezra and Nehemiah for the books to which the Vulgate gives the titles First and
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 for books purportedly written by Ezra in the ApocryphaApocrypha
[Gr.,=hidden things], term signifying a collection of early Jewish writings excluded from the canon of the Hebrew scriptures. It is not clear why the term was chosen.
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 and PseudepigraphaPseudepigrapha
[Gr.,=things falsely ascribed], a collection of early Jewish and some Jewish-Christian writings composed between c.200 B.C. and c.A.D. 200, not found in the Bible or rabbinic writings.
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.

Bibliography

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


Ezra,

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

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.

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