By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Prophets

  • Ezra was a direct descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses.
  • "Ezra" is a shortened form of Azariah, which means "Yahweh has helped."
  • Ezra was well-versed in the law and the OT.
  • He was a teacher by trade.
  • Because the hand of God was upon him, the king (Artaxerxes) gave Ezra everything he wanted.
  • Ezra arrived in Palestine in 458B.C.E.
  • The journey took 119 days. He probably traveled approximately 900 miles, going northwest along the Euphrates River, then south.
  • 1496 men accompanied Ezra to Jerusalem (women and children were not counted).
  • He fasted before the journey, trusting God would keep them safe.
  • They traveled with a great amount of money; robbers were plentiful.
  • 650 talents of silver would have weighed 49,000 pounds; 100 talents of gold would have weighed 7,500 pounds. These enormous sums amounted to millions of dollars.
  • All the money transactions were recorded in writing.
  • Ezra and his entourage did have a safe journey, and when the treasures were counted out, not a penny was missing.
  • Ezra devoted himself to the study of the law - not just intellectually, but in his heart as well.
  • His goal was to unite Judah when he arrived.
  • Ezra had been in Jerusalem for 4 ½ months when the problem of intermarriage was brought to his attention.
  • He immediately tore his clothes, which was a sign of distress and grief.
  • He also pulled out his hair (there's no precedent for that action) and repeatedly threw himself down on the ground.
  • He also prayed and fasted.
  • The people watched his response and trembled in fear.
  • Ezra reacted so strongly because he wanted them to understand the seriousness of this offense.
  • In Ezra's eyes, this was a national failure.
  • He never spoke about the issue, but waited for the people to draw their own conclusion.
  • A local leader spoke up, renouncing the practice.
  • Only then did Ezra get up and help them do what had already been suggested.
  • All the people gathered and agreed to separate themselves from foreign wives (and their resulting children), but because of the rain, there were practical difficulties and it took some time to put it into effect.
  • The work was completed within three months and involved about 100 couples.
  • Ezra is mentioned once in Nehemiah, but scholars aren't sure if this is accurate.


Allen, L, and T. Laniak, "Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Press. 2003.

Alter, Robert and Frank Kermode. The Literary Guide to the Bible. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. 1987.

Bechtel, Carol. "Esther." Interpretation. Atlanta: John Knox Press,1989.

Fensham, F. Charles. "The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah." The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans. 1982.

Holmgren, Fredrick Carlson. "Israel Alive Again." International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans. 1987.

Mills, Watson and Richard Wilson. Mercer Commentary on the Bible. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1995.

McConville, J.G. "Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther." The Daily Study Bible Series. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1985.

Throntveit, Mark. "Ezra-Nehemiah." Interpretation. Atlanta: John Knox Press. 1989.

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