Life of Ezra

Ezra was a famous scribe and priest who was the son of Seraiah and was probably born at Babylon. He was a scribe (teacher and interpreter of the Law) who went up to Jerusalem in B. C. 458 with the second body of returned captives. He speaks of himself as the author of the book which bears his name. It consists of two portions with a considerable interval between the two. The first describes the return of the captives in the time of Cyrus (536 BC), and the rebuilding of the Temple, interrupted by the Samaritans, but renewed at the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah. The second part of the book of Ezra relates the second immigration of exiles in the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus (457 BC), with Ezra himself, and his reformation of the people. The whole period covered by the book of Ezra extends over 79 years (from 536 to 457 BC). According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Ezra could be considered the second lawgiver, Moses being the first. It was Ezra who restored the Law after it had long been forgotten. According to Jewish tradition, Ezra was author of the books of Chronicles as well as the book that bears his name. He may also have helped write or edit the book of Nehemiah.

A Jewish-Christian's perspective:
At the present time, much as in Ezra's day, people seem to have little regard for the Word of God. Atheists and agnostics scoff at the Bible while many so-called religious scholars attempt to undermine it by "proving" that it is really just man's book about God and nothing more. Even Christians misuse and abuse the Bible by twisting it to mean what they want it to mean. But probably the most common abuse, in my opinion, is sheer neglect. Even God's people have a tendency to ignore it and act as if the Bible doesn't have any bearing on their lives. And what about Christians who are thoroughly familiar with the New Testament but have never cracked the pages of the Old Testament or who don't even know where to find the books of Ezra and Chronicles? It seems to me that most Christians today spend all of their study time in the last third of the Bible. The only portions of the Old Testament many Christians read are the books of Psalms and Proverbs. But the Bible that Jesus read was the Old Testament. In Ezra's day, the Law was in danger of being forgotten. But I'm not sure it's very different today. All of us need to spend more time in the Old Testament. But don't worry - even though you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory, you'll still find Jesus there. And who knows - you may get as much out of the Old Testament as you now get out of the New!

Character strengths we should copy:
Ezra carefully studied God's Word. He also was willing to put his understanding of God's Word into practice. In addition, he faithfully taught the Word of God to others. Ezra was instrumental in bringing God's people back to repentance, worship and respect for God's Word. Today, we need to be more like Ezra by boldly proclaiming God's Word and by calling God's people back to repentance and holy living.

Ezra the Scribe