Biblical People
Ezra (e ¬z'ra ¾). [Heb. and Aramaic ÔEzraÕ, thought to be either a late form of Ôezrah, "help," "assistance," or an abbreviation of ÔAzaryahuÆ, "Azariah," "Yahweh has helped," or "Yahweh gives assistance."]

1. For 1 Chr 4:17, KJV, see Ezrah.

2. A leading prist who accompanied Zerubbabel upon the return from Babylonian captivity (Neh 12:1, 7), probably founder of the postexilic house of Ezra (vs 12, 13).

3. A priestly descendant of Zadok, of the house of Phinehas (Ezr 7:1-16), probable author of the canonical book of Ezra. He was commissioned by a decree of the Persian king Artaxerxes issued in his 7th year, to journey to Jerusalem, to set up civil and religious administration, and to take whatever measures might be found necessary for the welfare of Jerusalem and its inhabitants (vs 6-26). He was "a ready scribe in the law of Moses" (v 6), and thus a well-educated Jew of the priestly class. Jewish tradition identifies him as the first of the order of "scribes," who, in the days of Christ, were the official interpreters of the Jewish law. With the royal decree in his hand and accompanied by a 2d band of Jewish exiles numbering more than 1,700 men, Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the 5th month (v 8), approximately in August. (This would be August, 457 b.c., if the 7th year of the reign is to be reckoned according to the Jewish fall-to-fall civil year beginning half a year later than the Persian year, which ran from spring to spring.) Finding the Jews of Palestine lax in observing the requirements of the Law, he instituted a thoroughgoing series of reforms. Many of the priests and others who had married heathen wives were persuaded to divorce them (chs 9; 10). Under the governorship of Nehemiah some 13 years later, Ezra led in the public reading and exposition of the Law (Neh 8), and had a leading role in the dedication of the new city wall (Neh 12:36) after its rebuilding under the leadership of Nehemiah -- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary.

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