Book of Ezra

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Ketuvim (writings) of the Tanakh
Sifrei Emet (poetic books)
חמש מגילות- Megillot (fixed rollers)
Old Testament history books

Names indented after the ÖVBE
: Deuterocanonical (Catholic and Orthodox) or Apocrypha (Protestant)

The Book of Ezra in Hebrew סֵפֶר עֶזְרָאis a book of the Tanakh or the Old Testament . It forms a unity with the book of Nehemiah , both in the Hebrew tradition ( Ezra-Nehemia ) and in the Septuagint ( 2nd Esdras ). The distinction between Ezra and Nehemia books, which is common today, goes back to the Vulgate , as does the number of chapters .

The 3rd, 4th , 5th, and 6th books of Ezra and the Ezra Apocalypse are apocryphal Jewish or Christian writings since the 1st century AD that refer to the biblical Ezra .


The book can be roughly divided into two parts:

  • Chapters 1–6 Zerubbabel story : Rebuilding the Jerusalem temple under Zerubbabel and Yeshua
  • Chapters 7-10 Ezra narration : procession to Jerusalem and constitution of the Jewish community

The individual parts deal with:

  • Esr 1 Permission for the Jews to return from their exile in Babylon by Cyrus II and the return of the temple implements
  • Esr 2 List of those who returned from exile (see Neh 7)
  • Ezr 3,1–7 erection of an altar and establishment of burnt offerings, celebration of the feast of tabernacles
  • Esr 3,8–13 Beginning of the temple construction
  • Esr 4 malfunctions in temple construction
  • Esr 5 New beginning of temple construction
  • Ezr 6,1-18 Cyrus edict and completion of the temple construction under Darius I.
  • Ezr 6: 19-22 celebration of the feast of Passover
  • Esr 7 Ezra is commissioned by Artaxerxes
  • Ezr 8.1–14 List of returnees with Ezra
  • Ezr 8: 15–36 Ezra travels to Jerusalem
  • Ezr 9 Ezra's penitential prayer because of mixed marriages
  • Esr 10 dissolution of mixed marriages


The main text of the book is written in Hebrew . Ezra 4,8-6,18 and 7,12-26, on the other hand, are written in the Aramaic language . The Aramaic of the book of Ezra is different from that of the book of Daniel . For example B. the form of the personal pronoun of the 2nd person singular masculine in Esraאנת, while in Daniel the consonant text is the form אנתה having.


In the early Jewish and Greek traditions, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were seen as a unit, as can be seen from information on the canon and the manuscript tradition. For example, B. the Massora in the Codex Leningradensis the book center according to the number of verses in Nehemia 3.32. A colophon is also missing at the end of Ezra.

This connection is also factually given. Both books deal with the events from the beginning of the Persian era, the rebuilding of the temple, the erection of the city wall around Jerusalem and the establishment of the Judean and Jewish cult community. In Neh 8 Ezra appears again, Neh 8,9 and 12,26 name Ezra and Nehemiah side by side, so that the impression of simultaneous work arises. In addition, there are literary macrostructures that suggest a systematic structure of the Esra-Nehemia book: Esra's penitential prayer (Ezr 9) is related to Nehemiah's prayer (Neh 1) and the penitential prayer of the people (Neh 9). Both the actions of Ezra and Nehemiah are in close contact with the Persian great king and are legitimized by royal edicts (Ezr 1; 7; Neh 2).

The separation of a separate book Nehemiah is motivated by the introduction Neh 1,1: "Words of Nehemiah, the son of Chachalja ..." and is found for the first time in Origen .

Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicle

The book of Ezra-Nehemiah still has strong factual and theological references to the books of the Chronicles. So Esr 1,1–3 literally repeats the end of 2 Chr 36,22f  EU . Ezra-Nehemiah can therefore be read as a continuation of 1/2 Chr. It is noticeable that the words, which are related to the preaching of Deutero-Isaiah , are introduced as Jeremiah's prophecy .

Ezra-Nehemia and 1/2 Chr continue to be interested in family tables, in cult and cult personnel, in festivals and prayers. Similarities also arise on the compositional level in the alternation of narratives and lists. These observations led to the thesis of a chronic historical work .

Recently, this thesis has been partially disputed. The chronological order 1/2 Chr - Esr / Neh is only offered in very few manuscripts. There are also a number of factual differences. The position of the Davidic royal house does not play a role in Esra-Nehemiah, while it is significant for 1/2 Chr.

There are several options for determining the relationship between Ezra-Nehemiah and 1/2 Chr:

  • The books are a joint work of one author.
  • Ezra-Nehemiah are a work from the same group of authors older than 1/2 Chr.
  • Ezra-Nehemiah are a younger work by the same group of authors compared to 1/2 Chr (update).
  • Ezra-Nehemiah and 1/2 Chr are initially independent works that are only later linked on an editorial level.

Ezra in early Christianity

In the New Testament Ezra is not quoted.

However, among the ancestors of Joseph of Nazareth, both in Mt 1.12  EU and in Lk 3.27  EU Zerubbabel and his father Shealtiël are mentioned. In the numerous generations from David to Joseph, these are the only two names in which the family trees according to Matthew and Luke match each other. Zerubbabel is only referred to as the son of Schealtiël in the Book of Esra (from Esr 3.2  EU to Neh 12.1  EU , also in the Greek 3rd Esra ) and in Haggai (from Hag 1.1  EU to Hag 2.23  EU ), while after 1 Chr 3,19  EU he was a son of Pedajas . The New Testament family trees for the post-exilic period are not based on the chronicle, but on the Ezra tradition.


  • research paper
    • Thomas Willi: Two decades of research on Chronicle and Esra-Nehemia. In: Theologische Rundschau 67 (2002), 61-104.
  • Individual studies
    • Sebastian Grätz: The Edict of Artaxerxes. An investigation into the religious-political and historical context of Ezra 7: 12-26 (supplements to the journal for Old Testament science 337). Berlin / New York 2004, ISBN 3-11-017967-9 .
    • Christiane Karrer: Struggle for the Constitution of Jude: A study of the theological-political ideas in the Esra-Nehemia book (supplements to the journal for Old Testament science 308). Berlin / New York 2001, ISBN 3-11-017055-8 .


  1. In the Septuagint this 23 chapter (= Ezra and Nehemiah) comprehensive book stands as Esdras β ' ("2nd Esdras") next to another, probably older Greek version, Esdras α' ("1st Esdras") .
  2. Jerome divided the work into two books, where I Ezrae corresponds to our book Ezra, II Ezrae corresponds to our book Nehemiah. The terms “1. Esra "and" 2. Ezra ”can easily lead to confusion, as they denote different sizes in the Greek and Latin Bibles.
  3. ^ Esra-Schriften, extra-biblical (AT). Retrieved July 8, 2020 .
  4. First with Leopold Zunz : The worship lectures of the Jews, developed historically. Berlin 1832.

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