Ezra, book of the Bible

Ezra, book of the Bible, combined with Nehemiah in the Septuagint to form the book 2 Esdras. In the Vulgate, Ezra and Nehemiah are called 1 and 2 Esdras respectively. Ezra, like Nehemiah, is the work of the Chronicler (see Chronicles) and narrates the history of the Jews from 538 b.c. to c.458 b.c. as follows: the decree of the Persian king Cyrus permitting the Jews to return to Palestine from captivity under the leadership of Sheshbazzar; the return of Zerubbabel with a certain number to Jerusalem in c.520 b.c. where they complete the task of rebuilding the Temple despite opposition; and the return of Ezra, priest and scribe, to Jerusalem in c.458 b.c. with orders from King Artaxerxes I to restore the Jewish law. It is possible, however, that Ezra might have returned after Nehemiah in c.398 b.c. during the reign of Artaxerxes II. The text is not clear which Artaxerxes is meant. A substantial passage of Ezra is in Aramaic. See also Esdras for books purportedly written by Ezra in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.

See F. C. Fensham, Ezra and Nehemiah (1982); M. A. Thronveit, Ezra–Nehemiah (1992).

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