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Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Ezra, Ezrah

Ezra Ezra — Ezrah Ezrah

The name Ezra is applied two or three times in the Bible. A man named Ezrah (Ezrah spelled with a heh) is mentioned in the genealogy of Judah (1 Chronicles 4:17), but it isn't clear how he fits in (Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names says that this Ezrah is the same as the Ezer of 1 Chronicles 4:4).

The name Ezra (Ezra spelled with an aleph) belongs to a priest who came back from exile to Jerusalem in the early Zerubbabel wave (see Nehemiah 12:1), and also to the famous late-return leader and reformer who also wrote the Bible book Ezra (Ezra 7:1).

That one name is spelled in two different forms is not uncommon. See for instance the name Baana(h).

Both forms probably come from the root azar (azar), meaning to help or support. Judging from the Biblical contexts, this helping is not a mere assisting but an essential and indispensable support, a requisite tied directly into surviving or not. In Genesis 2:8 this verb is even used to describe Eve's function in Adam's life, and the translation of "helper" doesn't seem to quite cut it. This verb's derivation Ezrah (ezra), meaning help, is identical to the name of Ezrah with the heh.

The heh and the aleph are both not very dominant letters and get substituted for one another at the drop of a hat. So both names mean Help, but there's more:

The name Ezra with the aleph may also be seen as a compound of two elements, namely az (az), meaning strong, and a shortened form of raa (ra'a), meaning to see. Derivative raa (ra'eh), means seer, and raa (ro'eh), means prophetic vision.

That way the name Ezra means Help, with the connotation of Strong Vision. And that would suit this amazing visionary and reformer just fine.

Other names derived of the verb azar are Abiezer, Azarel , Azariah, Azriel, Azrikam, Azzur, Eleazar, Eliezer, Ezer, Ezra(h), Ezri, Iezer, Jazer and Romamti-ezer.

Other names derived from the verb ra'a are Beer lahai roi, Haroeh, Irijah, Mamre, Reaiah, Reuben and perhaps Sisera.



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