Ezra

figure in early Jewish history

Ezra (; Hebrew: עזרא, ‘Ezrā; fl. 480–440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (עזרא הסופר, Ezra ha-Sofer) and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra, was a Jewish scribe (sofer) and priest (kohen). In Greco-Latin Ezra is called Esdras (Greek: Ἔσδρας). According to the Hebrew Bible he was a descendant of Sraya (Ezra 7:1) the last High Priest to serve in the First Temple (2 Kings 25:18), and a close relative of Joshua the first High Priest of the Second Temple (1 Chronicles 5:40–41 CJB and similar translations only; see also Ezra 3:2). He returned from Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem (Ezra 7–10 and Neh 8). According to 1 Esdras, a Greek translation of the Book of Ezra still in use in Eastern Orthodoxy, he was also a High Priest. Rabbinic tradition holds that he was an ordinary member of the priesthood.Several traditions have developed over his place of burial. One tradition says that he is buried in al-Uzayr near Basra (Iraq), while another tradition alleges that he is buried in Tadif near Aleppo, in northern Syria.His name may be an abbreviation of עזריהו Azaryahu, "Yah helps". In the Greek Septuagint the name is rendered Ésdrās (Ἔσδρας), from which the Latin name Esdras comes. The Book of Ezra describes how he led a group of Judean exiles living in Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem (Ezra 8.2–14) where he is said to have enforced observance of the Torah. He was described as exhorting the Israelite people to be sure to follow the Torah Law so as not to intermarry with people of particular different religions, a set of commandments described in the Pentateuch.Ezra, known as "Ezra the scribe" in Chazalic literature, is a highly respected figure in Judaism.
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