Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics


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The story of Ezra also appears in the Book of Nehemiah, and the two characters, Nehemiah and Ezra, are often associated with each other. According to the text, Nehemiah was sent to Jerusalem by the Persian king to rebuild the city wall (2: 1–8). After he had successfully done so Ezra the scribe, we are told, read to the people from the book of the law (8: 1–8). Between them these two men reconstructed the city and its proper cultic observances and feast days. Both the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are texts about the reorganization of Jerusalem and its religious life. They focus on such social issues as marriage (Ezra 10; Neh. 13: 23–30), the restoration of land and property (Neh. 5), the expulsion from the temple of all those not entitled to have access to it (Neh. 13: 1–9), and observance of the sabbath (Neh. 13: 15–22). Such issues are a constant in religious law, so the Ezra–Nehemiah material has much in common with other biblical literature (Genesis on marriage, Exodus–Deuteronomy on cultic observances). The violence of Nehemiah's actions against Tobiah's presence in the temple, his threats against the sabbath-breakers—a different version of the biblical practice of the laying on of hands (13: 21)—and his assaults on those of mixed marriage (13: 25) indicate a strongly sectarian ideology. Here, and in the Book of Ezra, are the beginnings of the second temple cult which was to prove to be the foundation of Jewish existence in the Graeco-Roman period and the roots of the Judaisms of a later period.

Chapter.  426 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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