What Is the Story of the Prophet Ezra?

Ezra was a Jewish priest who, according to the Old Testament, led a group of 40 000 Jews back from exile in Babylon to Jerusalem, where he proceeded to scold his countrymen for their poor observance of Torah law and enforce strict rules against intermarriage and work on Sabbath. He is said to have lived between 480 and 440 B.C.

Also known as Ezra the Scribe or Ezra the Priest, he instituted several ancient laws, and the Torah says that the Ten Commandments would have been given to him had Moses not received them first. He founded several institutions, such as the Great Assembly, and is credited with teaching Mosaic law to the general population, rather than it being the monopoly of the priesthood.

The actions of Ezra caused conflicts, and his followers were attacked by the Samaritans and forced into hiding. At that point, his ally Nehemiah arrived with another contingent of Jews from Babylon and defeated the Samaritans. The two of them are then credited with rebuilding the Great Wall and building the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

Later in life, Ezra is said to have received a series of apocalyptic revelations from which he predicted the coming of the Last Judgment.