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There are two persons named Etra who are recorded in Scripture.

1. Etra, a leading priest among the first colonists who came up to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, and who is mentioned by Nehemiah (xii, i); and, 2. Ezra, the celebrated Jewish scribe and restorer of the law, who visited Jerusalem forty-two years after the second temple had been completed. Calmet, however, says that this second Ezra had visited Jerusalem previously in company with Zerubbabel. Some explanation of this kind is necessary to reconcile an otherwise apparent inconsistency in the English system of the Royal Arch, which makes two of its officers represent Ezra and Nehemiah under the title of scribes, while at the same time it makes the time of the ceremony refer to the laying of the foundation of the second Temple, and yet places in the scene, as a prominent actor, the later Ezra, who did not go up to Jerusalem until more than forty years after the completion of the building. It is more probable that the Ezra who is said in the work to have wrought with Joshua, Haggai, and Zerubbabel, was intended by the original framer of the ceremony to refer to the first Ezra, who is recorded by Nehemiah as having been present; and that the change was made in the reference without due consideration, by some succeeding author whose mistake has been carelessly perpetuated by those who followed him. Dr. George Oliver (see Historical Landmarks ii, 428) attempts to reconcile the difficulty, and to remove the anachronism, by saying that Esdras was the scribe under Joshua, Haggai, and Zerubbabel, and that he was succeeded in this important office by Ezra and Nehemiah. But the English ceremonies make no allusion to this change of succession; and if it did, it would not enable us to understand how Ezra and Nehemiah could be present as scribes when the foundations of the second Temple were laid, and the important secrets of the Royal Arch Degree were brought to light, unless the Ezra meant is the one who came to Jerusalem with Nehemiah. Brother Mackey suggested that there is e confusion in all this which should be rectified.

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