🔼The name Ezra: Summary
- Strong Vision
- From the verb עזר (azar), to help or support.
- From (1) the adjective עז (az), strong, and (2) the verb ראה (ra'a), to see.
🔼The name Ezra in the Bible
The name Ezra is applied two or three times in the Bible. A man named עזרה (Ezrah spelled with a he) 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 עזרא (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 wrote the Bible book Ezra (Ezra 7:1).
🔼Etymology of the name Ezra
Both forms probably come from the root עזר (azar), meaning to help or support:
The verb עזר ('azar), means to help or support, and is often used in military contexts, or to describe God's proverbial help. The nouns עזר ('azar) and עזרה ('ezra) both mean help. A much rarer but identically spelled noun עזרה ('azara) means enclosure and comes probably from an other root.
This feminine noun עזרה (ezra), meaning help, is identical to the name of Ezrah with the he.
The he 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, the first one being עז (az), meaning strong:
The verb עזז ('azaz) means to be strong. Adjective עז ('az) means strong, mighty or fierce and adjective עזוז ('izzuz) means mighty or powerful. Nouns עז ('oz) and עזוז ('ezuz) mean strength, might or fierceness.
Noun עזניה ('ozniya) denotes some kind of bird of prey (this word may actually be a convenient import from another language) and noun עז ('ez) denotes a she-goat (this word may actually derive from a verb that means to be wayward or perhaps strong-headed).
Verb עוז ('uz) means to bring into refuge or to seek safety. Noun מעוז (ma'oz) describes a place or agent of safety.
The second element of the name Ezra could be a shortened form of ראה (ra'a), meaning to see:
The verb ראה (ra'a) means to see, and by extension to understand. It may mean to become visible (of, say, an angel) or to become understandable (of, say, a theory). Noun ראה (ro'eh) means either seer, or prophetic vision, and noun מראה (mar'a) means either vision as means of revelation, or mirror. Nouns ראית (re'ut) and ראות (re'ut) mean a looking. Nouns ראי (ro'i) and מראה (mar'eh) mean sight or appearance. Adjective ראה (ra'eh) means seeing.
Following this line of etymology, the name Ezra would mean Help, with the connotation of Strong Vision. And that would suit this amazing visionary and reformer just fine.