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Ez’ra (help), called Esdras in the Apocrypha, the famous scribe and priest. He was a learned and pious priest residing at Babylon in the time of Artaxerxes Longimanus. The origin of his influence with the king does not appear, but in the seventh year of his reign he obtained leave to go to Jerusalem, and to take with him a company of Israelites. (b.c. 457.) The journey from Babylon to Jerusalem took just four months; and the company brought with them a large freewill offering of gold and silver, and silver vessels. It appears that Ezra’s great design was to effect a religious reformation among the Palestine Jews. His first step was to enforce separation upon all who had married foreign wives. Ezra 10. This was effected in little more than six months after his arrival at Jerusalem. With the detailed account of this important transaction Ezra’s autobiography ends abruptly, and we hear nothing more of him till, thirteen years afterwards, in the twentieth of Artaxerxes, we find him again at Jerusalem with Nehemiah. It seems probable that after effecting the above reformations he returned to the king of Persia. The functions he executed under Nehemiah’s government were purely of a priestly and ecclesiastical character. The date of his death is uncertain. There was a Jewish tradition that he was buried in Persia. The principal works ascribed to him by the Jews are—

1. The institution of the great synagogue; 2. The settling the canon of Scripture, and restoring, correcting, and editing the whole sacred volume; 3. The introduction of the Chaldee character instead of the old Hebrew or Samaritan; 4. The authorship of the books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and some add, Esther; and, many of the Jews say, also of the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve prophets; 5. The establishment of synagogues.