EZION-GEBER (EZION-GABER). See Elath.
Ezra, poatexilic leader of the Jews and lawgiver,
was through his ancestor Seraiah
z. His independent community in Judea.
Powers as a He therefore put himself diligently to
Royal Com- the study of the law so as to set forth
missioner. in Israel what belonged to duty and
order. Evidently Ezra had gained in
the senate of the Diaspora a position of authority
as an expert in
the written law like that which
Zadok had gained under other conditions as a
conditions. So that he was commissioned to " in
quire concerning Judah and Jerusalem "
who wished to accompany Ezra on the return to
Jerusalem. But the religious aide of his mission moat concerned Ezra, and by this he was so engaged that he refused to ask an escort from the king (viii.
22). When he arrived at Jerusalem (458 s.c.) he appeared not only se the king's representative; he was the leader of a reenforcement of the Jewish
community amounting to 1,600 males and the means of bringing rich gifts. So that his coming meant the material strengthening of the Jewish commonwealth and the conveyance of the king's favor. The way in which he went to work demonstrated that he was concerned not to act according to arbitrary and selfish ends, but was there to follow the recognized order of procedure.
The record of the doings of Ezra after his coming to Jerusalem given by himself possesses great accuracy and completeness, as even the mutilated Hebrew text indicates. He evidently delivered the gifts of the king to the appointed authorities, and the firman of permission to the Persian representatives in the land. There are traces also of a census of the Jews already settled
s. His there, for his next teak was to investiPrincipal gate the condition of the Jews as aActs and community. The first discovery was Methods. that the practise of intermarrying with the heathen round about had been so common that it had invaded even the priestly families. It is characteristic of the man that he did not deal with this matter as the repre-
sentative of royal authority but as a religious leader, reminding them of their duty to the God who was recalling the nation from death to a renewed life. His pleadings were effectual, and the
local leaders of the people were induced to join with
him in the movement to purify the community
from the evil into which it had fallen. A commission
was created to look after the matter, and the
was completed within three months
It is a matter of regret that neither in the memoirs of Ezra nor in the words of the author is there any information concerning the twelve years between the event last narrated and the coming of Nehemiah. On the one aide it is clear that the man whose mission was to restore to honor the house of God and who had brought with him a host of those expert in the direction of the services would not be a laggard in the matter of the g. His joint organization of affairs so important Activitywith to the community and in attemptingNehemiah. to bring the practise of the people into accord with the religious ideals. In accordance with the commands given him, he found as a prime necessity the awakening in the commu nity .of the sense that the norms of conduct were expressed in the law. On the other hand it is admitted that it was after Nehemiah had come from the king as a prince and with military escort, had with strong hands seized the reins of direction and had overborne the opposition which developed, that the full achievement of the desires of Ezra was accomplished. The explanation of this doubtless is that Ezra purposely abstained from appealing to his own authority and from decreeing and ordaining the changes which he wished to bring about by awakening the popular conscience. Another side of the explanation is the opposition which was naturally aroused on the side of the heathen, and of a part of the community itself. The very rigor of the separation enforced between Jews and heathen did much to sharpen the opposition and
4. Opposi- Ezra was temporarily absent from tion and Jerusalem, or whether he definitely
Final limited himself to the service of those
Success. whose allegiance came willingly until
the arrival of Nehemiah, or whether
these two men had come to an understanding as
to the methods to be
employed. At any rate, it is
clearly stated that Ezra and Nehemiah were united in
the work of the restoration of the law at the celebration referred to in
Out of the curiously embellished recollection of
the epoch-making service of the real Ezra and from
the fact that after the time of Ezra and Nehemiah
the Jews and Samaritans remained strictly separate
communities, and that the Samaritans possessed
the law in the old character while the Jews had it
in the square character, many of the statements
concerning the traditional form of the books of
the law have originated. Some of these attribute
the newer form to Ezra, others to Ezra and the
Great Synagogue, who affixed the punctuation
Bibliography: Consult, besides the literature given under Ezra and Nehemiah, Books of, DB, i. 820-821; BB, ii. 1473-78; JR, v. 821 sqq.
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