Ezra was a member of the priestly caste who became an important religious leader of the ancient Jewish people during the era following the Babylonian exile. Ezra led a group of Babylonian Jews back to Jerusalem and instituted a religious revival colored by an insistence on ethnic purity.
When Jerusalem was conquered in 597 BCE, the elite classes were deported to the city of Babylonia for a period lasting roughly 50 years. Babylonia, in turn, was conquered by Persia, and the Jews were allowed to return. Many remained in Babylonia because they had developed their own community there, but Jerusalem remained a spiritual center. Around 457 BCE, Ezra, was appointed to be an official in Jerusalem. When Ezra entered Jerusalem, he railed against intermarriage to the Jews living in Jerusalem. He opposed assimilation and intermingling with local ethnic groups, especially the Samaritans. He also re-established the primacy of the books of Moses, introduced some textual innovations and is credited with writing the Book of Ezra and the Biblical Chronicles. Rabbinical literature views Ezra as a supreme scholar of the Torah, second only to Moses.