Second only to Moses in the mind of many Jewish rabbis was the priest Ezra. He was a very skilled scribe, an expert in the religious order of the Jewish nation and had great understanding of the Mosaic Law. In many ways, he was the leader of the Jewish exiles who desired to return to Jerusalem after the horrible Babylonian-Persian Exile. I believe this was also the time that the Pharisees emerged and grew. With no Temple – no central place to worship or practice the Law of Moses – many men committed themselves to separation for the things of God. These men were called Pharisees or the “separated ones.” They had come to the conclusion that to separate themselves for the concerns of God, distinct from the pagan world and heretics, was critical and important. In my view,
Ezra led the very first movement of Pharisees back into Israel.
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