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People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Ezra (ĕz'rah), help. 1. A descendant of Judah. 1 Chronicles 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 lead a large company of persons and go to Jerusalem, b.c. 457. Ezra 7:1-28. In Jerusalem he carried through the reforms he had intended, particularly the separation of the "strange wives." Ezra 10:1-44. With an account of this important measure the book of Ezra ends. The next notice of him is in Nehemiah 8:1. Nehemiah was governor when Ezra entered Jerusalem the second time; accordingly, Ezra attended only to priestly duties, such as teaching. Nehemiah 8:1-18; Nehemiah 1:1-11. It is unknown when he died. Jewish tradition 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 tame. The book of Ezra covers about 79 years, and should be read in connection with the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah. It contains (1) chaps. 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) chaps. 7-10. the history of Ezra's immigration and his reforms, particularly in regard to the strange wives. The hook of Ezra is written in Chaldea from chap. 4:8 to 6:19, narrating the attempt of the Samaritans to hinder the building of the temple, and from the beginning of chap. 7 to the 27th 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.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Ezra'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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