Ezra was a scribe who led a revival among the Jews who returned from exile in Babylon. He taught the Scriptures and led the people to dedicate themselves to God. Ezra probably wrote the book with his name in the Bible.
After Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, conquered Jerusalem, the Jews were exiled for about 70 years. Then Babylon was conquered by the Persians and Cyrus, king of Persia, allowed the Jews to return home. Some returned soon but many stayed in the cities where they had been exiled.
When they arrived in Jerusalem, the Jews began to rebuild the temple. The work took several years and stopped a few times, due to the opposition of the enemies, but finally the temple was opened. The people dedicated the temple but there were few people to work on it.
Ezra returns to Jerusalem
Several years after the temple opened, Ezra decided to return to Jerusalem, with more of the exiles. He came from a family of priests, from the line of Aaron, and had dedicated himself to studying the Word of God ( Ezra 7: 6 ). Ezra was also a scribe, a very knowledgeable teacher. He returned to Jerusalem for the purpose of teaching the people to obey God ( Ezra 7:10 ).
With the official permission of the King of Persia, Ezra brought a lot of money and the things necessary to keep the temple service running in Jerusalem. He was also allowed to administer the territory and organize the justice system there, according to the Law of God ( Ezra 7:25 ).
Ezra was accompanied by many Jewish families and several Levites who could work in the temple. But, before leaving on a trip, they fasted and prayed to God for protection, because the road was dangerous, with many bandits. They took a lot of money and would be an easy target. But Ezra did not ask for guards because he had told the king of Persia that he trusted God ( Ezra 8: 22-23 ).
The trip went well and everyone arrived safely. They gave up all the offerings in the temple and made sacrifices to thank God.
When he returned, Ezra found that the people were not obeying God. Many men had married foreign women of other religions. In the past, this had been the problem that had diverted the people to idolatry, bringing God’s condemnation. Therefore, Ezra humbled himself and prayed to God , confessing the sins of his people.
Afterwards, Ezra called all the people to confess their sins. The community decided to dedicate themselves entirely to God and the men who had married foreign women were invited to separate from them ( Ezra 10: 10-11 ).
Ezra was also a contemporary of Nehemiah, who organized the reconstruction of the Jerusalem wall. When the construction was completed, Ezra, who was serving as a priest, brought the people together and read the Law of God. For a whole day he taught the Law and explained it to the people ( Nehemiah 8: 2-3 ). In the end, everyone saw that they had gone astray and needed to consecrate themselves to God again.
See also: who was Nehemiah?
Later, the people confessed their sin and made a deal with God, to follow His Law. They dedicated themselves to God and abandoned idolatry. Thanks to the work of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jewish people did not fall back on the sins of the past in a general way.