Ezra was a prophet in the fifth century BC, a great Jewish Scribe and a priest living in the city of Babylon, springing from the family of Aaron, the first priest. He wrote the Book of Ezra. During this formative period the great scribe appeared in Judah. Ezra was a prominent member of the Jewish community in Babylon and had been commissioned by Artaxerxes to reintroduce the Law of Moses into Judah in 458. King Artaxerxes was upon the throne (465-425), and the Babylonian Jews obtained his sanction for sending a mission to look into the affairs of Judea and Jerusalem. Ezra was chosen as the leader as a priest well versed in the Torah of Moses, a 'ready scribe' sopher, that is, a student of the Book sepher.

Ezra was a prophet through whom God spoke to the people. He was a lover of God's book at a time when the book of the Lord was almost forgotten. Ezra began to seek everywhere among the Jews for copies of the different books of the Bible. Whenever he found one, he wrote it out and kept the copy, and also led other men to copy the books as they found them. All over the world the Jews look upon Ezra as the greatest man in their history except Moses. They call him the second founder of Israel.

Ezra led the second expedition of Jews back from Babylonian exile into Palestine. They arrived in Jerusalem in the month of Ab. Ezra brought with him a set of scrolls containing the Torah, the five books of Moses, compiled in written form during the long exile. And He brought with him the decree from Artaxerxes, the king, giving the authority to Ezra to set magistrates and judges and to enforce, said the decree, the "law of your God, and the law of the king."

Thirteen years later, Nehemiah joins Ezra. Nehemiah gives a dramatic account of Ezra's first appearance in Jerusalem. In a public square the scholar addressed the entire population, reading the law through the morning until the men and women of Jerusalem wept.

In accordance to the royal decree, Ezra was now to be firmly established in Jerusalem as chief judge; empowered to settle everything relating to the religion of the Jews, and the life which regulated by it. Ezra soon found, to his great distress that the people of Jerusalem had paid no regard to the law forbidding the marriage of Israelites with heathen. Overwhelmed by his emotion, he sank to the ground, utterly unstrung and weeping bitterly. Men of tender conscience gathered around him, and all remained in mourning until the hour of the evening came, when Ezra poured out his soul in prayer. By this time a great congregation had gathered about Ezra and "wept very sore."

The temple was rebuilt by the liberated Jews, under Ezra, by people who worked with a trowel or shovel in one hand and dagger or club in the other. Judaism, as a racial religious organization, with the center of its hierarchy at Jerusalem, was now rising into the place of the Jewish nation.
[345, 346, 376, BD,Nehemiah 8, 390, 396]

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