Ezra was also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. Based on the Hebrew Bible, he was a descendant of Seraiah, who was the last High Priest to serve in the First Temple. He was also a close relative of Joshua the First High Priest of the Second Temple. Ezra was known to have returned from Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem. Let us know more about Ezra and the major events that happened in his life.
Name: Ezra which means “help”
- Ezra the Scribe
- Ezra the Priest
Family: Seraiah (Father)
Major Events in Ezra’s Life
The Jews who had returned before Ezra began to rebuild the temple. The surrounding countries did not like this and sent a letter to King Artaxerxes complaining and saying that Jerusalem would not be loyal or pay its taxes. King Artaxerxes ordered that work on the temple cease until he said so. It was not until the second year of Darius the Great’s reign of Persia did the work resume.
After these events, Ezra, the son of Seraiah, came back from captivity in Babylon. Ezra was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel had given. God had blessed Ezra and he was enabled by king Artaxerxes of Persia to return with whatever supplies he needed to return and rebuild the temple. Many Jewish people went back with Ezra.
Ezra began the journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. When Ezra arrived back in Jerusalem, he was expecting to find the people serving the Lord with gladness, but he was mortified that the Israelites had intermarried with the pagans surrounding the city.
The primary concern of Ezra was the people’s lack of devotion to God that’s why he sought to bring about a reformation of their religious life. The Jewish community had neglected the affairs of God and they were more concerned about their own personal matters.
Ezra prayed for forgiveness and began to make reforms. God inspired him to start changes and rekindle their religious zeal, establishing again the aspects of the law that was neglected.
Ezra formed a council of 120 people, and the people on this council were prophets and sages. The purpose of this council was to enforce God’s law. People were no longer allowed to marry foreign women and helped lead them to repentance for their sins. Ezra also organized leadership for the Israelites. He made a covenant with the people to keep God’s Law and keep themselves separate from other people.
Ezra’s prayers resulted into people accepting guilt and showing willingness to put away their pagan wives. He led the people to confess their guilt before God and the people agreed.
In the Book of Ezra, we can learn that God is as intimately involved in our lives as He was in Ezra’s life. It’s because just like Ezra, we are sometimes enabled to do the impossible. But as long as we believe in God, our yesterday’s sorrows can turn to today’s successes. Just like how Ezra effectively used the returning Jews’ sorrows for the success of rebuilding God’s city and restoring worship.