The book of Ezra.
Counted among the writings.
None on site.
CCEL: Ezra (Hebrew only).
Swete LXX (Greek only).
Gateway (English only).
HTML Bible: Ezra (Hebrew and English).
HTML Bible: Ezra
(Latin Vulgate only).
Zhubert (Greek and English).
Kata Pi BHS: Ezra (Hebrew and English).
Kata Pi LXX: 2 Esdras (Greek and English).
Sacred Texts: Ezra (polyglot).
Ezra at the OT Gateway.
Ezra in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).
Ezra at Kata Pi (Oesterly and Robinson).
Ezra from the Plymouth Brethren.
Introduction to Ezra-Nehemiah (David Malick).
Outline of Ezra-Nehemiah (David Malick).
Political Tensions Reflected in Ezra-Nehemiah
between Nehemiah, Ezra, Chronicles, and Esdras (David C. Hindley; in
The book of Ezra is counted as an historical book in our English
Bibles, but in the Jewish scriptures
it is among the writings.
The book was originally written in Hebrew (except Ezra l7.12-26,
which is in Aramaic), but the ancient Greek
translation known as the Septuagint
(abbreviated LXX) is also a very important witness to the text. This
book in the LXX bears the title of 2 Esdras (or Esdras B), 1 Esdras
(or Esdras A) being one of the
apocryphal books extant in the LXX but not in the Hebrew scriptures.
Also, the books of Ezra and of Nehemiah are
considered the first and second parts, respectively, of the same book
both in the LXX and in the Masoretic Hebrew traditions:
(Also refer to my pages on Nehemiah,
1 Esdras, and
Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).
Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the book of Ezra:
James King West writes: "As we have seen, the books [I and II Chronicles;
Ezra and Nehemiah] are but parts of a single work, for convenience referred
to as the Chronicler's History. A uniformity of language, style, and outlook
is evident throughout, and the concluding verses of II Chronicles (36:22-23)
are repeated verbatim as the opening verses of Ezra (1:1-3). The division apparently
resulted from the admission of the latter portion of teh work (Ezra-Nehemiah)
into the Canon prior to the acceptance of the first part (Chronicles). Ezra-Nehemiah
was admitted first because it records a phase of Hebrew history provided by
none of the other canonical books, whereas Chronicles repeats in large part
the history contained in the older works. When at a later time Chronicles became
a part of the Canon, Ezra-Nehemiah retained its prior position. It remained
for the Greek version to restore the proper sequence as we find it in our English
Bibles." (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 424)
Ralph W. Klein writes: "The book of Ezra is concerned about the purity
of the community in Jerusalem and gives the impression that this community was
made up primarily of those who returned from exile. Continuity with pre-exilic
Israel is based on the return of the Temple vessels through Sheshbazzar and
on the restoration of both the altar and the Temple on their former sites. The
delay in the building of the Temple is not blamed on the people's concern for
their own comforts (as in Hag. 1:4) but on the actions of the enemies of Judah
and Benjamin, who persistently opposed the work in Jerusalem and disheartened
the people. The celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles after the completion
of the altar (Ezra 3:4-5) anticipates the joyful dedication of the Temple (6:16-18)
and the equally joyful observance of the Passover a few months thereafter (6:19-22).
The Temple was completed by Zerubbabel, the governor, and Jeshua, the high priest,
with the hearty endorsement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah." (Harper's
Bible Commentary, p. 372)
Robert North writes: "In his lectures at Louvain from 1880, and especially
in a series of publications since 1890 (RB 33  33-64), A. van Hoonacker
dropped a bombshell into the staid fixity of exegetical preconceptions by claiming
that Ezra first appeared under Artaxerxes II in 398 [instead of Artaxerxes I
in 458 BC]. His arguments are reduced to eight points: (1) The wall for which
Nehemiah is chiefly renowned already exists when Ezra reaches Jerusalem (9:9;
gader). (2) Ezra (10:1) finds Jerusalem already repopulated (by Nehemiah,
11:1). (3) Nehemiah is put before Ezra in Neh 12:26; 8:1. (3) Nehemiah is put
before Ezra in Neh 12:26; 8:1. (4) Eliashib, contemporary of Nehemiah (13:4),
is (grand-?)father of Jehohanan, Ezra's contemporary (Ezr 10:6 = Neh 12:23?).
(5) The silence of Nehemiah's memoirs about Ezra's allegedly earlier Torah promulgation
is inexplicable. (6) Nehemiah (11:3) enumerates repatriates led by Sheshbazzar
and/or Zerubbabel, but not those led by Ezra (8:2). (7) Ezra (8:33) makes use
of a committee of four resembling that instituted by Nehemiah (13:13). (8) Nehemiah's
handling of mixed marriage, delayed until his second tour of duty (13:23), could
not suppose Ezra (9:14) to have preceded." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary,
vol. 1, pp. 426-427)
James King West writes: "As for Nehemiah's dates, there is little doubt
that he was sent by Artaxerxes I in 445 B.C. and then after a twelve-year administration
returned to Persia and receive reappointment for a second term (c. 433 B.C.).
The more difficult question concerns the dating of Ezra. It is entirely possible
that 'the seventh year of Artaxerxes' should be taken in reference not to Artaxerxes
I but to Artaxerxes II (404-360 B.C.), in which case Ezra would have arrived
in Jerusalem in 398 B.C. If so, however, we should have to discount those passages
which make Ezra and Nehemiah contemporaries, since by no stretch of the imagination
could the latter's second term have lasted so long. There are other and perhaps
more serious objections as well. The Elephantine correspondence (i.e., the Passover
Papyrus), for example, reveals that by 419 B.C. the Persian authorities were
dispatching directives via Jerusalem which regulated the cultic life of Egyptian
Jews in accordance with Pentateuchal law. That this could have happened prior
to Ezra's reforms, which established Torah in Jerusalem itself, is difficult
to conceive. For such reasons, an alternate position which accepts the year
428 B.C. for the beginning of Ezra's mission appears to be growing in acceptance
among scholars and provides the most plausible theory yet proposed. This date
is premised on the likelihood of a scribal omission of a single letter in Ezra
7:7 )a case of haplography due to the consecutive occurence of three words with
the same initial letter) so that the 'seventh year of Artaxerxes' initially
read 'thirty-seventh year' (428 B.C.)." (Introduction to the Old Testament,
J. Alberto Soggin writes: "scholars are still divided: G. Ricciotti, J.
Pedersen, H. H. Rowley, N. H. Snaith, M. Noth and W. Rudolph favour the arrival
of Ezra after Nehemiah (and the seventh year of Artaxerxes would then refer
not to Artaxerxes I but to Artaxerxes II, which would bring us down to the beginning
of the fourth century); a few, including Y. Aharoni and U. Kellermann, are in
favour of the traditional sequence, finding the alternative date assigned to
Ezra too low. A third solution has been proposed and has some elements in its
favour. The celebrations mentioned in Neh. 1-7 seem to be an integral part of
a sabbatical year and its liturgy. We know the dates of at least two of these,
164-3 (cf. I Macc. 6.49) and 38-7 (cf. Josephus, Antiquities XII, 9.5
= §378; XV, 1.1 = §7). It is thus relatively easy, by calculating
backwards, to arrive at a sabbatical year celebrated in the time of Artaxerxes
I Longimanus; this date falls in 430-29, that is, in the thirty-seventh year
of the monarch's reign. It is then necessary to suppose an error in the dating:
instead of reading 'In the seventh year of Artaxerxes' we should read 'In the
thirty-seventh year of Artaxerxes'. In this case Ezra would indeed have come
after Nehemiah, but not so late as a connection with Artaxerxes II might suggest.
The greatest defect of this theory is obviously the fact that it not only requires
a textual emendation at a vital point, but also is based on the celebration
of the sabbatical year, a festival the origins and celebrations of which are
still shrouded in mystery. In fact we have no proof that it was ever celebrated
before the time of the Maccabees." (Introduction to the Old Testament,
Samuel Sandmel writes: "If, however, the Chronicler is simply schematizing,
and if the Aramaic documents are forgeries, and if the 'memoirs' are frauds,
then the view may be correct which denies that there ever was an Ezra, and which
asserts that he was a fictitious person invented by the Chronicler as the embodiment
of those accomplishments the Chronicler wished to trace. This view, however,
seems to me preposterous. It is much more reasonable to suppose that the Chronicler
had sources, documents, and traditions about a Nehemiah and an Ezra. We can
understand him once we regard him as a schematizer rather than a historian.
He was less interested in being accurate about history than he was in completing
his chosen task of showing that the Temple and its officials represented an
ancient tradition, bent but never broken, and surviving in its authentic form
to the Chronicler's own day. In Chronicles, he finds a threat to the authenticity
to be the evil toleration by the monarchs, in spite of prophetic warning, of
non-Yahvistic practices and peoples. For the postexilic period he has no monarchs
to blame. His strictures against intermarriage are only an adaptation of his
previous strictures against non-Yahvistic religion." (The Hebrew Scriptures,