Ezra in rabbinic literature

Ezra in rabbinic literature

Ezra in rabbinic literature.

His work

Ezra marks the springtime in the national history of Judaism. "The flowers appear on the earth" (Cant. ii. 12) refers to Ezra and Nehemiah (Midr. Cant. ad loc.). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] Ezra was worthy of being the vehicle of the Law, had it not been already given through Moses (Talmud Sanhedrin 21b). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] It was forgotten, but Ezra restored it (Talmud Sukkah 20a). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] But for its sins, Israel in the time of Ezra would have witnessed miracles as in the time of Joshua (Ber. 4a). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] Ezra was the disciple of Baruch ben Neriah (Cant. R.); his studies prevented him from joining the first party returning to Jerusalem in the reign of Cyrus, the study of the Law being of greater importance than the reconstruction of the Second Temple. [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] According to another opinion, Ezra remained behind so as not to compete, even involuntarily, with Jeshua ben Jozadak for the office of chief priest. [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] Ezra reestablished the text of the Torah, introducing therein the Assyrian or square characters, apparently as a polemical measure against the Samaritans (Talmud Sanhedrin 21b). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] He showed his doubts concerning the correctness of some words of the text by placing points over them. [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] Should Elijah, said he, approve the text, the points will be disregarded; should he disapprove, the doubtful words will be removed from the text (Ab. R. N. xxxiv.). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] Ezra wrote the Book of Chronicles and the book bearing his name, the Book of Ezra (B. B. 16a). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ]

Praise of Ezra

He is regarded and quoted as the type of person most competent and learned in the Law (Torah) (Ber. R. xxxvi.). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] The rabbis associate his name with several important institutions. [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] It was he who ordained that three men should read ten verses from the Torah on the second and fifth days of the week and during the afternoon ("Minchah") service on Sabbath (B. Ḳ. 82a); that the "curses" in Leviticus should be read before Shavuot, and those in Deuteronomy before Rosh Hashanah (Meg. 31b; see Bloch, "Die Institutionen des Judenthums"," i. 1, pp. 112 et seq., Vienna, 1879). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] He ordained also that courts be in session on Mondays and Thursdays; that garments be washed on these days; that garlic be eaten on the eve of Sabbath; that the wife should rise early and bake bread in the morning; that women should wear a girdle (B. K. 82a; Yer. Meg. iv. 75a); that women should bathe (B. Ḳ. 82a); that pedlers be permitted to visit cities where merchants were established (B. Ḳ. 82a; see Bloch, l.c. p. 127); that under certain contingencies men should take a ritual bath; that the reading at the conclusion of the benedictions should be "min ha-'olam we-'ad ha'olam"("from eternity to eternity") against the Sadducees; see Bloch, l.c. p. 137). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] His name is also associated with the work of the Great Synagogue (Meg.17b). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] He is said to have pronounced the Divine Name according to its proper sounds (Yoma 69b), and the beginnings of the Hebrew calendar are traced back to him (Betzah 6a; Rashi, ad loc.). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ]


Ezra is identified with Malachi by Joshua b. Ḳarḥa (Meg. 15a) [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=102&letter=M&search=malachi#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - MALACHI, BOOK OF ] ]

Death and place of burial

According to tradition, Ezra died at the age of 120 in Babylonia. [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] Benjamin of Tudela was shown his grave on the Shatt al-Arab, near the point where the Tigris flows into the Euphrates ("Itinerary," i. 73). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] According to another legend, he was at the time of his death in Babylon, as a courtier in the retinue of Artaxerxes (see Fulcran Vigouroux, "Dictionnaire de la Bible", ii. 1931). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ] In the selichah for the Tenth of Tevet the date of Ezra's death is given as the 9th of Tevet (see Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chayim, 580). [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=578&letter=E&search=ezra#1 JewishEncyclopedia.com - EZRA THE SCRIBE ] ]


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