From LDS Sunday School
Jump to: navigation, search

Ezra is a name derived from Hebrew, "My help/court is God", Standard Hebrew ʿAzriʾel, Tiberian Hebrew ʿAzrîʾēl.

According to the genealogy in Ezra 7:1-5, Ezra was the son of Seraiah (2 Kings 25:18-21), and a lineal descendant of Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron. In the seventh year of the reign of Artaxerxes I Longimanus, Ezra obtained leave to go to Jerusalem and to take with him a company of Israelites (Ezra 8). Artaxerxes showed great interest in Ezra's undertaking, granting him "all his requests," and giving him gifts for the house of God. Ezra assembled a band of approximately 5,000 exiles to go to Jerusalem. They rested on the banks of the Ahava for three days and organized their four-month march across the desert.

No record exists for the 14 years between 459 BCE, when Ezra is thought to have organized the ecclesiastical and civil affairs of the Israelite nation, and 445 BCE, when Nehemiah first appears in the Bible's chronology. Nehemiah's first recorded act was to rebuild the ruined wall of the city. After this reconstruction, a great group of people gathered in Jerusalem to dedicate the wall. On the appointed day, Ezra and his assistants read the Torah aloud to the whole population. According to the text, a great religious awakening occurred. For successive days, beginning on Rosh Hashanah, the people rejoiced in the holy days of the month of Tishri. Ezra read the entire scroll of the Torah to the people, and he and other scholars and Levites explained and interpreted the deeper meanings and applications of the Torah to the assembled crowd. These festivities culminated in an enthusiastic and joyous seven-day celebration of the Festival of Sukkot, concluding on the eighth day with the holiday of Shemini Atzeret. On the 24th day, immediately following the holidays, they held a solemn assembly, fasting and confessing their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. Then, they renewed their national covenant to follow the Torah and to observe and fulfill all of the Lord's commandments, laws and decrees (Neh. 10:30). Abuses were rectified, and arrangements for the temple service were completed.

According to Josephus, Ezra was the contemporary of Xerxes son of Darius, rather than of Artaxerxes, and he died around the time Eliashib became High Priest (Antiquities of the Jews 11.5.1-5).

External Links