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104: The Ezra Restoration

Babylonian Exile  

Moses was called to be the Judge or leader of Israel under God, and under Moses were the elders and the Seventy ruling over the various tribes of Israel, and under them were the officers of thousands and hundreds etc. which ruled all Israel.  This was the Mosaic Civil Administration. 

The Religious Administration consisted of the tribe of Levi and from Levi the sons [male descendants] of Aaron were called to be the priests;  the priests officiating over the sacrificial system and the Levites assisting the priests in all matters except the actual offering of the sacrifices.   

Throughout the history of the Judges and Kings the priests of Aaron, the Levites and the Administrative System officials repeatedly fell far away from God.



Solomon departed from God and God rent the ten tribes of Israel away from Judah/Benjamin and gave them to Jeroboam.  Jeroboam immediately led Israel into idolatry and great wickedness so that not one of the kings of Israel was righteous and God finally removed them from the land by the hand of the Assyrians who replaced them.

2 Kings 17:22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; 17:23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. 17:24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava [cities of Babylon], and from Hamath [modern Homs Syria, at that time the Hamathites were a Hamitic race, and are included among the descendants of Canaan. (Genesis 10:18)] , and from Sepharvaim [Sippara on the east bank of the Euphrates is now called Abu-Habba], and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. 

Without doubt there were some faithful to God through the years in Israel as God had told Elijah that he had 7,000 still in Israel during the days of Elijah (1 Kings 19:18). 

Some of the faithful would have fled south to Judah at the warnings of the prophets and the approaching armies, after which they were assimilated into Judah.



Because of the Temple at Jerusalem and several good kings, Judah had periods of revival among the periods of apostasy  [see the list of  good and bad kings]  Judah remained until Jerusalem was destroyed in c 586 B.C.  Judah then fully entered the Babylonian Captivity and was largely removed from the land to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. 

They remained in captivity in Babylon until 536 B.C. during which time the Mosaic Administration of the Seventy and the officers over the people gained almost complete ascendancy over the tribe of Judah; the Priests and Levites fading because there was no longer a tabernacle or a temple or even an Ark.   

The Scribes who were from the Levites with some from the Priests [who were also descendants of Levi], prospered because they preserved the scriptures and were the only remaining Levites and Priests relevant to the situation. 


Building the Temple

Cyrus assumed the title of “king of Babylon” in 536, claiming to be the descendant of the ancient kings, and made rich offerings to all the temples and religions, to maintain the peace of the population by gaining the support of the religions leaders; in a continuation of the “church state” system of Babylon.

In celebration he decreed that the foreign populations who had been deported to Babylon could return to their old homes, carrying with them the images of their gods; and restore their national religions. Among these populations were certain Jews, who, as they had no images, took with them the sacred vessels of the temple and some 50,000 went back to Judea to rebuild the Temple.

At that time leaders of the Jewish people throughout Babylonia urged them to return to the Judah and to begin working on rebuilding the Temple.

This included Zerubavel ben She’altiel, a descendant of King David; Yohoshua [Joshua] ben Yehotzadak [Jehozadok], the High Priest; Nechemiah [Nehemiah]; Mordechai; and the Prophets; Chaggai [Haggai], Zechariah and Malachi. Yehoshua and Zerubavel appointed the Levites to supervise the work, while the questions of halachah [law] which arose in the course of construction were decide by the Sages of the Sanhedrin [the Seventy elders], among who were many prophets. [HOJP I, 25].



See also the “Post Exilic History” category

Ezra the Scribe came to Jerusalem only after the Temple was built. The Persian king appointed Ezra as the chief judge over the Jews, and authorized him to enforce his decisions. When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem he quickly discovered the truth of the many reports concerning the disappointing spiritual level of the local Jews.

The physical construction of the Temple was completed but the spiritual condition of the people was not. Ezra summoned all the men of Yehudah [Judah] and Benjamin [Benjamin] to Jerusalem.

So great was Ezra’s impact on the people that they all promised to divorce their foreign wives.  All that winter, until the first of Nissan, the Seventy now called the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and the various local courts [the administrative officials remember the Mosaic Administration] occupied themselves with establishing the family purity of the returnees.

The society’s need for national spiritual leadership was met by the creation of a special body called the Knesses HaGedolah, or Great Assembly which assisted Ezra in restoring true religion to Judah, this body of the Seventy was eventually called the Sanhedrin.

The Great Assembly later called the Great Sanhedrin, under Ezra took steps to revive the religion.

Seeing that the lack of  biblical scholars and teachers was the cause of Judah’s downfall, Ezra sent scholars to the different communities restoring the synagogue school system with a synagogue [meeting place] in every town.   

Era being a deeply converted and an appointed Judge [ruler] Levite, Priest, prophet and Scribe, restored the Synagogue system and sent Biblical Scholars to teach the nation.  

They translated the Bible into the Aramaic [common speach of the people] vernacular and canonized the scriptures into a single authoritative version.  Ezra also ordained that all sacred texts be again written in Ashuri script, a sacred square-letter script.

Ezra and the Great Assembly also restored the method of determining the new month by a special committee of the Sanhedrin examining witnesses to the first visible light of the new moon, precise sacrificial ritual with its various prayers, the temple period Passover service [which is not the same as today’s Rabbinic Seder service], the water pouring ceremony, the ceremony of light and the method of rejoicing with branches at the Feast of Tabernacles. 

After Ezra, from the time of Alexander into the first century there was a continual struggle for dominance between the Sadducee’s, Scribes and the Pharisees, especially between the Mosaic loyalists and those who had been Hellenized. 


The Pharisees

Alexander the Great  356-323 B.C.

By introducing Hellenic culture into Syria, Babylon and Egypt, he had probably more influence on the development of today’s Judaism than any one individual not a Jew by race. After the siege of Tyre, 332 B.C., he marched through Palestine unopposed and visited Jerusalem.

By the first century, the Seventy came to be called the Sanhedrin, while the scholarly officials came to be called Pharisees.  The priests were called Sadducee’s and those who copied the scriptures were called Scribes.  The Pharisees came to be deeply influenced by Hellenic culture and reasoning which was spread by Alexander, who had been taught by Aristotle, who was taught by Plato, who was taught by Socrates.   

Those Pharisees who remained faithful to God lived mostly in Judea, while those willing to apply the reasoning of the Greeks to their religion, had many in Judea and dominated the Jews who remained in Babylon or lived in Alexandria. 

The Mosaic or faithful Pharisees became very proud and eventually made God’s Word of no effect through their many added traditions.  They rejected Christ, who stripped away their false traditions and taught the pure and true Word of God.  These folks were largely destroyed along with the Jerusalem Temple Sadducee’s and Scribes by the Romans in the first century.   

The demise of the Mosaic Pharisees meant the end of Mosaic Judaism and a long struggle between the Scribes [Karaites] and the Hellenized Pharisees, resulting in  the rise of modern Rabbinic Judaism.

Jesus said:  Matthew 23:2 “Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

He was speaking of the Mosaic Pharisees and Scribes who were faithful to Moses and taught the Word of God in Judea at that time.   

Those Mosaic Pharisees were not the Sadducee’s [priests] they came from the 70 elders and from the Mosaic System of Officials over thousands and hundreds, who were scholars of the scriptures! 

Let’s look at the Mosaic Administration again; what kind of people were to be chosen to help rule the people?  Exodus 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

Jesus said that it was these faithful scholars of God’s Word who sat in Moses seat, because they were the heirs of the Mosaic Administrative System!   

Then he said Matthew 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 

The chief problem with the Mosaic Pharisees is that they added their own traditions to the Word of God and were just as zealous for their traditions as they were for the Word of God, thereby making the Word of God of no effect through their zeal for the traditions of men; which is exactly the problem in today’s Ekklesia!

He was not speaking of the Hellenized Pharisees who interpreted the scriptures using Greek logic twisting the scriptures to appear to mean things quite different from what they actually said, and falsely claiming a secret tradition from Moses to deceive people into accepting their apostate teachings. 

How do we know that there is no secret tradition from Moses?  Because God commanded that all that he had told Moses was to be taught to the people!

Leviticus 10:11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses

Deuteronomy 5:31 But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it. 

Any person who teaches anything different from the Holy Scriptures is a false teacher and a false prophet, for we are to live by every Word of God in the Holy Scriptures. 

Deuteronomy 5:31 But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it. 5:32  Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.

Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth [tests] you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

13:4 Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 

There are NO secret instructions or traditions from Moses, we are to live by every Word of God contained in the Holy Scriptures and any teaching which is different from the Holy Scriptures is false.

Ezra’s Synagogue Education System

Bet Sefer

Children around six years old would have gone to a local synagogue school called a Bet Sefer. It means house of the book. In the days of Moses and Joshua a synagogue or school system of education was set up to be run by the Levites.  The godliness of these schools often fluctuated into paganism as David prophesied in Psalm 74:8  They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them [Judah in the Babylonian captivity] together: they [because Judah had forsaken God] have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land. 

Then after the punishment and captivity in Babylon  some of the Jews returned to Judea and the godly synagogue education system was restored by Ezra.

This system continued until the Roman wars when the Temple and the religion of the Judean Pharisees and Sadducee’s was destroyed; to be succeeded by the followers of Yeshua [Jesus; true faithful Christians]; and by the Babylonian Hellenized Pharisees who developed into the modern rabbinate of today. 

From the days of Ezra, a child usually attended a Bet Sefer from age 6 to age 10.

This school would be attended five or six days a week . There would be a local synagogue teacher who would begin teaching the Books of Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; along with reading, writing and other subjects of a general basic education.

It is said that on the first day of class a rabbi would give each child some honey. He would then say, “Now class, There is nothing sweeter, than honey, taste the honey”. And as the students tasted, the teacher would say, “May the words of God be sweet to your taste, sweeter than honey to your mouth” (Psalm 119:103). May the words of God be the most pleasurable, the most enjoyable thing you could ever comprehend.

As a child you were introduced to the Scriptures and taught that there was nothing more enjoyable in the entire universe than; tasting, receiving and fully learning and internalizing the Words of God and making them a part of your life.

This is how boys were introduced to the Scriptures. From ages 6-10 they would be taught the entire five Books of Moses as well as the “ABCs” of reading writing and arithmetic and complete the Bet Sefer schooling.


Bet Talmud

Bet Talmud means house of learning and does not refer to the Talmud compiled hundreds of years later. Roughly from ages 10-14 in Bet Talmud you would learn the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures all the way to Malachi.


Bet Midrash [Discipleship]

At the end of your study at Bet Talmud, when you were around 14-15 years old, you would proceed to learn a trade; or if you were interested in advanced religious studies you would go and seek out a respected and knowledgeable Rabbi to study with.

The rabbi would ask you lots of questions, to find out if you were a suitable candidate for a discipleship. This was because each rabbi wanted to teach very advanced studies designed to make the novice into a rabbi himself. This was akin to a modern Bible School to train people for the ministry, although much more personal, like having a personal tutor, and was called the yoke of learning. This rabbi wanted to know, when he was questioning the applicant, his potential disciple: “Is this boy able to become a rabbi himself and to teach and spread my yoke?” So the rabbi would ask all kinds of questions.

And if the rabbi believed that you had potential to become a rabbi, He would say, “Lech Acharai – Come, follow me,”  and you would be accepted to become his disciple student ,and you would spend the next few years to learning from that rabbi.  Would Yeshua [Jesus] settle for anyone but the very best and wisest rabbi to apprentice to?  Would the teachers not have heard of this prodigy and seek him for their student?   There is much reason to believe that Jesus was trained by the leading scholar of his time Gamaliel.; and that he was trained alongside the brightest Jewish students of his day, perhaps Saul himself. 

At the age of 30 years the diligent student would “graduate” to become a Rabbi himself.

Sanhedrin History


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