Today’s Reading: EZRA 4:7-23, EZRA 7:1-8:36
In our modern day world we rarely use titles. Used to be that you would refer to someone as “Sam, the butcher” or “Preacher Smith” or “John the Carpenter”. We never hear anyone say “Have you seen Tim the Corporate Information Security Officer today?”” or “How Suzy the database administrator” .
Did you realize that many last names are actually the profession of some families long ago? A couple years ago when I was reading about medieval England I made a list every time I read a name of a profession that is now a common last name. Here is my list:
Baker, Barber, Barker, Brewer, Carpenter, Carter, Cartwright, Cook, Cooper, Dyer, Farmer, Fisher, Fuller, Gardner, Greener, Hunter, Mason, Miller, Priest, Rider, Shepherd, Smith, Tanner, Taylor, Walker, Weaver, Woodman, Wright
The old custom of naming by profession is long gone. I am not so sure it would work when we seem to change professions like shoes. In my 25 years of work since college I could have been Plim the Missionary, Plim the unemployed, Plim the Temp, Plim Teacher, Plim Geek and finally Plim CISO (Corporate Information Security Officer).
In the Bible we don’t have any last names. Sure, we have “John the Baptist” and James and John “Sons of Thunder”. But there are no Hezekiah Cooks or Moses Bakers. Some less informed think that “Christ” was Jesus’ last name, it isn’t. Jesus was known as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus the carpenter’s son.
Which all leads me to today’s post’s title: what was Ezra’s last name? The answer – he did not have one. But he was well known. There were ways to determine if you were talking about one Ezra or another. Reading today’s text we see that this particular Ezra was well known and easy to recognize.
Ezra 7:1 – 5 (NIV)
1 Many years later, during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, there was a man named Ezra. He was the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the high priest.
From these verse we can see Ezra has been tracked down all the way to Aaron, the high priest. I myself can only say, Plim, son of Stanley, son of Michael, son of Konstantin.
Ezra 7:1 – 5 (NIV)
6 This Ezra was a scribe who was well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to the people of Israel. He came up to Jerusalem from Babylon, and the king gave him everything he asked for, because the gracious hand of the Lord his God was on him.
From this verse learn much more about Ezra – he was a scribe who was well versed in the Law of Moses. Meaning that he knew God’s Word well. He was well educated. We also learn that he was from Babylon, thus an exile. Most importantly we learn that the hand of the Lord his God was on him.
In three more verses we have an idea who Ezra was, in the eyes of King Artaxerxes:
Ezra 7 (NIV)
11 King Artaxerxes had given a copy of the following letter to Ezra, the priest and scribe who studied and taught the commands and decrees of the Lord to Israel:
12 “From Artaxerxes, the king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the teacher of the law of the God of heaven. Greetings
21 “I, Artaxerxes the king, hereby send this decree to all the treasurers in the province west of the Euphrates River: ‘You are to give Ezra, the priest and teacher of the law of the God of heaven, whatever he requests of you
Ezra is called by a king “the teacher of the law of the God of heaven”. What a great way to be remembered. Not as Ezra Writer or Ezra Teacher or Ezra Reader, but Ezra Teacher of the law of the God of heaven.
Ezra got that name or title because, as we read earlier, “Ezra was a scribe who was well versed in the Law of Moses”. Ezra studied deeply the Law of Moses, the Law of the God of heaven. You and I should be so dedicated. You and I should be well versed in the Word of God.
Maybe we are not going to get to change our last name. Sure, no one on earth is going to start calling you “John Teacher of the Word.” or “Sue Keeper of the Law.” but God might. God knows you and He knows your devotion to His Word. Maybe it is time to work on changing your last name in the eyes of the one that really matters. My guess is, if you are reading this blog and your Bible, you are on your way to changing your last name. I hope so.