Esdras the Prophet

detail of a painting of Esdras the Prophet, date and artist unknown; swiped from Santi e BeatiAlso known as

  • Ezra



Priest and scribe who left Babylon in the 7th year of Artaxerxes (458 B.C.) with a caravan of 1,800 Jewish exiles, to return to Jerusalem. The Persian king had given Esdras a letter ordering the satraps beyond the Euphrates to aid him to enforce observance of the Mosaic Law in Judea. Esdras brought with him an exemption from taxation for the temple officials, and gifts from Artaxerxes and the Jews of Babylon. With these the temple worship was to be enhanced and subsidized. Within a year mixed marriages, of which even priests had been guilty, were dissolved. In 444 B.C., after the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt, the Law was read to the assembled multitude, whereupon the Feast of Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement were observed. There followed the renewal of the Covenant, which all solemnly agreed to keep. By Esdras and Nehemias the restoration of the Law was effected. The measures which Esdras himself effected determined in great part the organization and practise of later Judaism. The Talmud assigns to him the compilation of the Books of Paralipomenon. He is also credited with the collection of the canonical books of the Old Testament extant in his time. Jewish tradition regards him as the author of the Books of Esdras.


Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Esdras the Prophet“. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 February 2019. Web. 9 December 2021. <>