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Ezra was a priest and scribe (Ezra 7:11, Nehemiah 8:1-2) at the time of Artaxerxes I (about 458 B.C.) according to most biblical scholars. Others propose a later date, during the reign of Artaxerxes II (about 398 B.C.).[1]

The Book of Ezra describes his initial journey by approbation of King Artaxerxes from Babylon to Jerusalem, and his ministry there.

[I]n the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah(...)—this Ezra went up from Babylon. He was a skilled scribe in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given; and the king granted him all his request, according to Yahweh his God’s hand on him. Some of the children of Israel, including some of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants went up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylon; and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God on him. For Ezra had set his heart to seek Yahweh’s law, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel. (Ezra 7:1, 6-10 World English Bible (WEB) translation in the public domain)

He is accredited with the initial formation of rabbinical Judaism, and has been accused of being the primary teacher and father of Jewish religious intolerance based on a rigid interpretation of the Torah of Moses, the Law of Israel. His defenders credit him with (1) the zealous preservation of Judaism against pagan corruption and (2) the collection of the scriptures of the Old Testament into the TaNaKh, the Bible of the Jews. He is honored and regarded by many orthodox Jews as being a Second Moses.

Both Jews and Protestants teach that divine inspiration before the time of Jesus ceased with the death of Ezra (see Biblical Canon). The apocryphal book of 2 Esdras is attributed to him.

Ezra is also held to be the founder of Hasidic Judaism and of the esoteric mystical doctrines of Kabbalah (Qabalism).

See also

Scribes (Bible)


  1. New American Bible (1970) footnote Ezra 7:1-8. See multiple commentaries on Ezra 7:6

External links