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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Ezra

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the author of the book which bears his name, was of the sacerdotal family, being a direct descendant from Aaron, and succeeded Zerubbabel in the government of Judea. This book begins with the repetition of the last two verses of the second book of Chronicles, and carries the Jewish history through a period of seventy-nine years, commencing from the edict of Cyrus. The first six chapters contain an account of the return of the Jews under Zerubbabel, after the captivity of seventy years; of their reestablishment in Judea; and of the building and dedication of the temple at Jerusalem. In the last four chapters, Ezra relates his own appointment to the government of Judea by Artaxerxes Longimanus, his journey thither from Babylon, the disobedience of the Jews, and the reform which he immediately effected among them. It is to be observed, that between the dedication of the temple and the departure of Ezra, that is, between the sixth and seventh chapters of this book, there was an interval of about fifty- eight years, during which nothing is here related concerning the Jews, except that, contrary to God's command, they intermarried with Gentiles. This book is written in Chaldee from the eighth verse of the fourth chapter to the twenty-seventh verse of the seventh chapter. It is probable that the sacred historian used the Chaldean language in this part of his work, because it contains chiefly letters and decrees written in that language, the original words of which he might think it right to record; and indeed the people, who were recently returned from the Babylonian captivity, were at least as familiar with the Chaldee as they were with the Hebrew tongue.

Till the arrival of Nehemiah, Ezra had the principal authority in Jerusalem. In the second year of Nehemiah's government, the people being assembled in the temple, at the feast of tabernacles, Ezra was desired to read the law. He read it from morning till noon, and was accompanied by Levites who stood beside him, and kept silence. The next day they desired to know of Ezra how they were to celebrate the feast of tabernacles. This he explained, and continued eight days reading the law in the temple. All this was followed by a solemn renewal of the covenant with the Lord. Josephus says that Ezra was buried at Jerusalem; but the Jews believe that he died in Persia, in a second journey to Artaxerxes. His tomb is shown there in the city of Zamuza. He is said to have lived nearly one hundred and twenty years.

Ezra was the restorer and publisher of the Holy Scriptures, after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity.

1. He corrected the errors which had crept into the existing copies of the sacred writings by the negligence or mistake of transcribers.

2. He collected all the books of which the Holy Scripture then consisted, disposed them in their proper order, and settled the canon of Scripture for his time.

3. He added throughout the books of his edition what appeared necessary for illustrating, connecting, or completing them; and of this we have an instance in the account of the death and burial of Moses, in the last chapter of Deuteronomy. In this work he was assisted by the same Spirit by which they were at first written.

4. He changed the ancient names of several places become obsolete, and substituted for them new names, by which they were at that time called. He wrote out the whole in the Chaldee character; that language having grown into use after the Babylonish captivity. The Jews have an extraordinary esteem for Ezra, and say that if the law had not been given by Moses, Ezra deserved to have been the legislator of the Hebrews.


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Ezra'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/e/ezra.html. 1831-2.

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