Although there are variations of the meaning of mantle in the Bible, the main idea is that of a covering such as a cloak or other article of clothing. The New American Standard Bible uses the word mantle in Joshua 7:21 and Hebrews 1:12. In the former passage, the ESV translates the word as “cloak” and, in the latter, “robe.” In biblical times, a mantle was typically a large, loosely fitting garment made of animal skin, probably sheepskin. Several people are mentioned as wearing a mantle, including Job (Job 1:20) and Ezra (Ezra 9:5).
Prophets were known for wearing mantles as a sign of their calling from God (1 Kings 19:13). The prophet Samuel wore a mantle (1 Samuel 15:27). The prophet Elijah “threw his cloak around [Elisha]” as a symbol of Elijah’s ministry being passed on to Elisha. The prophet’s mantle was an indication of his authority and responsibility as God’s chosen spokesman (2 Kings 2:8). Elisha was not confused as to what Elijah was doing; the putting on of his mantle made his election clear.
Some theologians see the mantle as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. For example, in 2 Kings 2:14 Elisha takes the mantle that had “fallen” from Elijah, similar to how Jesus received the Spirit “descending” on Him at His baptism (Matthew 3:16). The audible voice of God in Matthew 3:17 confirms Jesus as God’s chosen servant (cf. Isaiah 42:1). We see a similar “falling” of the Spirit in Acts 8:15-16 and Acts 10:44. It’s only after Elisha takes the fallen mantle that he performs miraculous works (2 Kings 2:14, 21, 24). The Holy Spirit is the Person who empowers God’s people to do God’s work (Micah 3:8; Matthew 12:28; Ephesians 3:16).
The mantle served the practical purpose of keeping people warm and protecting them from the elements. It also served a symbolic purpose, in the case of the prophets, showing they were wrapped in God’s authority. Like all imagery in the Old Testament, the mantle presents a visible representation of a New Testament principle. The mantle can be seen as a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit whom God so graciously gives to all Christians, the people of His choosing (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9).
I continue the series of messages on Authorship of the Bible. Today I will discuss, Who were the authors of the books of the Bible?
Authorship of the Bible
“Who were the authors of the books of the Bible?”
Ultimately, above the human authors, the Bible was written by God. Second Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Bible was “breathed out” by God. God superintended the human authors of the Bible so that, while using their own writing styles and personalities, they still recorded exactly what God intended. The Bible was not dictated by God, but it was perfectly guided and entirely inspired by Him.
2 Timothy 3:16
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God….”
The word “Scripture” in the above passage is another name for the book that today we call the Bible. What the above verse tells us is that all the Bible (“all Scripture”), was given by inspiration of God. The phrase “by inspiration of God” is actually one word in the Greek text, the word “theopneustos”. This word is composed by the word “theos” that means God and the word “pneustos” that means breathed. Therefore, when the Bible says that it is “theopneustos” what it means is that it is “God-breathed”, it is God’s conception, God’s idea, God’s inspiration. Hence: Author of the Bible is God who breathed it, inspired it, conceived it, authored it.
The Bible is unique inasmuch as it maintains consistency, harmony, and continuity from cover to cover. It has one message from Genesis to Revelation. Nothing outstanding about that you say… After all most books have one ‘theme’, story line or subject. True! But perhaps the Bible’s uniformity is more than a little curious considering that …
Forty independent writers were used in its compilation.
They wrote over a 1,500 year time span.
They lived in three different continents.. Asia, Africa and Europe. Moses wrote in the desert of Sinai, Paul wrote in a prison in Rome, Daniel from exile in Babylon, and Ezra in the ruined city of Jerusalem.
They spoke and wrote in three different languages
They had twenty different occupations, which included a couple of kings, a general, at least two fishermen, a musician, a priest, a tax collector, a physician etc.
It has a cast of 2,930 characters in 1,551 places.
It covers a huge number of different subjects. Isaiah wrote to warn Israel of God’s coming judgment on their sin, Matthew wrote to prove to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah, Zechariah wrote to encourage a disheartened Israel who had returned from Babylonian exile, and Paul wrote addressing problems in different Asian and European churches.
It was written under many different circumstances. David wrote during a time of war, Jeremiah wrote at the sorrowful time of Israel’s downfall, Peter wrote while Israel was under Roman domination, and Joshua wrote while invading the land of Canaan.
Its message is expressed in all literary forms (poetry, prose, etc.).
Without possible concert or collusion, they produced a book which, in all its parts, is pervaded by one spirit, one doctrine, one design, and by an air of sublime authority which is its peculiar characteristic. It is amazing that with such diversity, there is such unity in the Bible. That unity is organized around one theme: God’s redemption of man and all of creation. Hundreds of controversial subjects are addressed and yet the writers do not contradict each other.
Such a Book is a Literary Miracle. It is Impossible to Account for its Existence Upon Ordinary Principles.
No other book in history can make the same claim!
Could You Write The Bible?
Say you were going to write a book, and this was how you had to write it: For a start find 40 different writers – totally different writers. Get some who are highly educated, even doctors – then get some farmers. Go dig a guy off a ranch somewhere and say, “I’d like you to help me write a book.” Then find some fishermen. Go down to the wharf and find a couple of guys from San Francisco and say, “Hey! listen help me write a book.” And they say, “Sure, fine… we’ll help you.” And then you get all of them to write on the following things: religion, poetry, ethics, science, philosophy, the creation of the universe and where it’s going – and ask them to throw in a few things about where they think it will all end.
Next, you need to collect all that information, and then… oh, by the way, you have to separate these people so they can’t communicate by phone or telegraph… only possibly word of mouth, passed down over the years. Ah yes, years… you collect all this stuff over about one and a half thousand years, and compile the whole thing in one book. What would you have? I know what you’d have – you’d have the most motley junk you’ve ever seen in your life, with people totally contradicting each other! I suggest you take a biology textbook from 60 years ago, and compare it with one today. And that’s just 60 years! But that’s not what you have when you read your Bible. The more you read this book, the more you see the incredible unity of it. Because the more you get into it, the more incredibly detailed it is, and you find there are not 40 people who wrote it, but One Person.
The Christian’s Charter
This book reveals the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.
Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy.
It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.
It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.
Here, too, heaven is opened and the gates of hell disclosed.
Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.
It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.
Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully.
It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.
It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever.
It involves the highest responsibility, will regard the greatest labor, and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
Owned it is riches; studied it is wisdom; trusted it is salvation; loved it is character; and obeyed it is power.
Humanly speaking, the Bible was written by approximately 40 men of diverse backgrounds over the course of 1500 years. Isaiah was a prophet, Ezra was a priest, Matthew was a tax-collector and of the tribe of Levi, John was a fisherman, Paul was a tentmaker, Moses was a shepherd, Luke was a physician. Despite being penned by different authors over 15 centuries, the Bible does not contradict itself and does not contain any errors. The authors all present different perspectives, but they all proclaim the same one true God, and the same one way of salvation—Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Few of the books of the Bible specifically name their author. Here are the books of the Bible along with the name of who is most assumed by biblical scholars to be the author, along with the approximate date of authorship:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy = Moses – 1400 B.C.
Joshua = Joshua – 1350 B.C.
Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel = Samuel/Nathan/Gad – 1000 – 900 B.C.
1 Kings, 2 Kings = Jeremiah – 600 B.C.
1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah = Ezra – 450 B.C.
Esther = Mordecai – 400 B.C.
Job = Moses – 1400 B.C.
Psalms = several different authors, mostly David – 1000 – 400 B.C.
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon = Solomon – 900 B.C.
Isaiah = Isaiah – 700 B.C.
Jeremiah, Lamentations = Jeremiah – 600 B.C.
Ezekiel = Ezekiel – 550 B.C.
Daniel = Daniel – 550 B.C.
Hosea = Hosea – 750 B.C.
Joel = Joel – 850 B.C.
Amos = Amos – 750 B.C.
Obadiah = Obadiah – 600 B.C.
Jonah = Jonah – 700 B.C.
Micah = Micah – 700 B.C.
Nahum = Nahum – 650 B.C.
Habakkuk = Habakkuk – 600 B.C.
Zephaniah = Zephaniah – 650 B.C.
Haggai = Haggai – 520 B.C.
Zechariah = Zechariah – 500 B.C.
Malachi = Malachi – 430 B.C.
Matthew = Matthew – A.D. 55
Mark = John Mark – A.D. 50
Luke = Luke – A.D. 60
John = John – A.D. 90
Acts = Luke – A.D. 65
Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon = Paul – A.D. 50-70
Hebrews = unknown, mostly likely Paul, Luke, Barnabas, or Apollos – A.D. 65
James = James – A.D. 45
1 Peter, 2 Peter = Peter – A.D. 60
1 John, 2 John, 3 John = John – A.D. 90
Jude = Jude – A.D. 60
Revelation = John – A.D. 90
This article may seem a bit heavy but I believe that we must lay a proper foundation and begin with the basics in order to be based upon the same “rock.”
Jesus is the chief cornerstone. “… built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” Eph. 2:20-21
Romans 10:9 says: “…if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
First, I want to make it very clear that The House of the Nazarene is a believer’s church asking everyone to “confess” that Jesus is Lord.
Second, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
I have said that I do not like to refer to the events recorded in the Bible as stories. To me, the word “stories” carries with it the idea of myths, fiction, nursery rhymes, and fables. We even use the word to refer to telling lies – “Johnny told a story.” I much prefer to speak of “events” or “historical accounts” when we talk about the happenings of the Bible. Now, I’m not going to get mad at you if you continue to use the word “stories” when referring to the Bible. There may even be times that you catch me using that word. But just remember that the stories recorded in the Bible are unlike any other story in the libraries of the world. You can be 100% sure that they are true to the smallest detail.
I must admit though that if I did not know that the Bible was God’s Word, I would have a hard time believing some of the events that are recorded in it. The Bible records that the whole universe was created in a period of 6 days, and that it was created with nothing but the words of God. It also says that God got so disgusted with the people in His world that He sent a great world-wide flood to destroy it. It says that the water was so deep that it rose 20 feet higher than the tallest mountain. Floating on top of that water was a boat that contained the last 8 people on the face of earth and at least 2 of every kind of land animal on the planet.
The pastor of another church announced that on the following Sunday, he was going to be speaking on Noah and the ark. A couple of mischievous boys noticed something interesting about the passage and decided to play a prank on their pastor. They glued two pages of the pastor’s Bible together. The next Sunday morning, the pastor got up to read his text, but because two pages were glued together, it read a little bit different than he expected. It went something like this: “And Noah took a wife, and she was” – page turn – “450 long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall.” The old pastor stood there stunned for a minute, and then he said, “I have been reading this Bible for 50 years, and there are still some things that I read that are hard to believe.”
The Bible is full of things that are hard to believe: the 10 plagues on Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the fall of the walls of Jericho, the day the sun stood still, the strength of Samson, Jonah and the great fish – all things that would fit well into a science fiction movie except for the fact that God said that they happened and that they happened just the way that they are recorded in the Bible. But the hardest story of all to believe is the story of Jesus because it is the one that is the most ridiculous. To think that Jesus, who is Almighty God, would leave behind the splendor of heaven, be born of a virgin, live as fully God and fully man, heal the sick, raise the dead, walk on water, feed the hungry, teach those who would listen, be rejected by those He created, die on a cross as payment for the sins of people who lived 2000 years later, rise from the dead the third day, and be taken back up into heaven – that’s foolishness! (1 Cor 1:23-25 NIV) but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Whether the pages of the Bible sound foolish to you or not, they are true. You can believe them. You MUST believe them for they are your only hope.
While I was learning the history of the Covenant, the common question of the early founders of the church was repeated many times. It was the question “Where is it written?” The Covenant was founded on the principle that what we believe about God is based upon the scripture rather than tradition, cultural influences or feelings.
The problem comes in where people will take the same passage of scripture and believe it says seemingly diametrically opposing things. This really isn’t the “big” problem. Often in scriptural interpretation the difference is really over our presuppositions. We can come to the text and try to “use” it to make the point of our belief rather than coming to the text and allow it to speak.
In order to avoid the “conflict of interest” between our presuppositions and what the text actually says Biblical teachers develop a list of principles that they use in looking at the Bible. Often the meaning of a Bible passage is plain and obvious. When it is not, a few logical principles can be used to help in understanding the passage.
We call this “exegesis.” The Greek word exegeomai means basically “to lead out of.” When applied to the Biblical text, it carries the sense of “reading out” the meaning. The meaning comes from the text. The noun, therefore, could refer to “interpretation” or “explanation.” So whenever we read a passage of scripture we seek to understand and interpret.
Hermeneutics takes this process to the next level and seeks to apply the text into our lives today. Many people use these terms interchangeably.
Stage One: UNDERSTAND:
What does the passage actually say?
Setting: When and where was the book or passage written?
Purpose: Why was it written?
Context: What is the book as a whole about?
Form: How, or in what form, was it written?
Words: What is the meaning of individual words?
Stage Two: EXPLAIN:
What does the passage mean?
What did the passage mean to its original readers?
What is the main point or teaching of the passage?
How does it compare with other, perhaps clearer, Bible passages?
Stage Three: Apply
What does the passage mean today?
What is an equivalent situation today to that of the original readers?
Does the passage have some specific teaching about God, man, the world, the church…?
Is there any action to be taken in the light of the passage?
Does it lead to prayer or praise?
When common sense makes good sense look for no other sense.
These two points of doctrine (believers’ church and Biblical basis) seems basic because it is. This is what the Covenant is founded upon. The Bible was recorded by man, but it was authored by God. It can be trusted in every word and for every need.
Search me O God and know my heart
Test me and know my anxious thoughts
See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
Forgive us for not trusting your word.
Forgive us for not studying your word as we ought..
Make us real. With a Circumsized and a heart after you!
In Jesus Precious name, Amen.
12:1-26 Priests and Levites who went up with Zerubbabel
1 Now these [are] the priests and the Levites that went up with Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua: Seraiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, 2 Amariah, Malluch, Hattush, 3 Shechaniah, Rehum, Meremoth, 4 Iddo, Ginnetho, Abijah, 5 Miamin, Maadiah, Bilgah, 6 Shemaiah, and Joiarib, Jedaiah, 7 Sallu, Amok, Hilkiah, Jedaiah. These [were] the chief of the priests and of their brethren in the days of Jeshua. 8 Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, [and] Mattaniah, [which was] over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren. 9 Also Bakbukiah and Unni, their brethren, [were] over against them in the watches. 10 And Jeshua begat Joiakim, Joiakim also begat Eliashib, and Eliashib begat Joiada, 11 And Joiada begat Jonathan, and Jonathan begat Jaddua. 12 And in the days of Joiakim were priests, the chief of the fathers: of Seraiah, Meraiah; of Jeremiah, Hananiah; 13 Of Ezra, Meshullam; of Amariah, Jehohanan; 14 Of Melicu, Jonathan; of Shebaniah, Joseph;
15 Of Harim, Adna; of Meraioth, Helkai; 16 Of Iddo, Zechariah; of Ginnethon, Meshullam; 17 Of Abijah, Zichri; of Miniamin, of Moadiah, Piltai; 18 Of Bilgah, Shammua; of Shemaiah, Jehonathan; 19 And of Joiarib, Mattenai; of Jedaiah, Uzzi; 20 Of Sallai, Kallai; of Amok, Eber; 21 Of Hilkiah, Hashabiah; of Jedaiah, Nethaneel. 22 The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, [were] recorded chief of the fathers: also the priests, to the reign of Darius the Persian. 23 The sons of Levi, the chief of the fathers, [were] written in the book of the chronicles, even until the days of Johanan the son of Eliashib. 24 And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise [and] to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward. 25 Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, Obadiah, Meshullam, Talmon, Akkub, [were] porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates. 26 These [were] in the days of Joiakim the son of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and in the days of Nehemiah the governor, and of Ezra the priest, the scribe.
12:27-43 The dedication of the walls
27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, [with] cymbals, psalteries, and with harps. 28 And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi; 29 Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem. 30 And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall. 31 Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great [companies of them that gave] thanks, [whereof one] went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate: 32 And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,
33 And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam, 34 Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah, 35 And [certain] of the priests’ sons with trumpets; [namely], Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph: 36 And his brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God, and Ezra the scribe before them. 37 And at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate eastward. 38 And the other [company of them that gave] thanks went over against [them], and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall; 39 And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.
40 So stood the two [companies of them that gave] thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me: 41 And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, [and] Hananiah, with trumpets; 42 And Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah [their] overseer. 43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
12:44-47 The temple offices restored
44 And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited. 45 And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, [and] of Solomon his son. 46 For in the days of David and Asaph of old [there were] chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God. 47 And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified [holy things] unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified [them] unto the children of Aaron. (Nehemiah 12:1-47 AV)
Nehemiah 13:1-31 Nehemiah’s reforms
1 On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; 2 Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing. 3 Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude. 4 And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, [was] allied unto Tobiah: 5 And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded [to be given] to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests. 6 But in all this [time] was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king: 7 And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. 8 And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. 9 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.
10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given [them]: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field. 11 Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. 12 Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries. 13 And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them [was] Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office [was] to distribute unto their brethren. 14 Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof.
15 In those days saw I in Judah [some] treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all [manner of] burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified [against them] in the day wherein they sold victuals. 16 There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. 17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing [is] this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? 18 Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. 19 And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and [some] of my servants set I at the gates, [that] there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. 20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. 21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do [so] again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no [more] on the sabbath. 22 And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and [that] they should come [and] keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, [concerning] this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.
23 In those days also saw I Jews [that] had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, [and] of Moab: 24 And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people. 25 And I contended with them, and cursed them, and
smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, [saying], Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. 26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. 27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?
28 And [one] of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, [was] son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me. 29 Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites. 30 Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business; 31 And for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good. (Nehemiah 13:1-31 AV)
This is the End of Nehemiah
8:1-12 Ezra reads and explains the Law
1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that [was] before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. 2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read therein before the street that [was] before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people [were attentive] unto the book of the law.
4 And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, [and] Meshullam. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with [their] faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people [stood] in their place. 8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused [them] to understand the reading.
9 And Nehemiah, which [is] the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day [is] holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for [this] day [is] holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. 11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day [is] holy; neither be ye grieved. 12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
8:13-18 Feast of tabernacles restored
13 And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. 14 And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: 15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as [it is] written. 16 So the people went forth, and brought [them], and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness. 18 Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day [was] a solemn assembly, according unto the manner. (Nehemiah 8:1-18 AV)
9:1-3 The people fast and repent
1 Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. 2 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God [one] fourth part of the day; and [another] fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
9:4-38 Confession of priests and Levites
4 Then stood up upon the stairs, of the Levites, Jeshua, and Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, [and] Chenani, and cried with a loud voice unto the LORD their God. 5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, [and] Pethahiah, said, Stand up [and] bless the LORD your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. 6 Thou, [even] thou, [art] LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all [things] that [are] therein, the seas, and all that [is] therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. 7 Thou [art] the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; 8 And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give [it, I say], to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou [art] righteous: 9 And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea;
10 And shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land: for thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them. So didst thou get thee a name, as [it is] this day. 11 And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters. 12 Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go. 13 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: 14 And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant: 15 And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them. 16 But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, 17 And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou [art] a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
18 Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This [is] thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; 19 Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. 20 Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. 21 Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, [so that] they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. 22 Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them into corners: so they possessed the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Heshbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. 23 Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess [it].
24 So the children went in and possessed the land, and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would. 25 And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness. 26 Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.
27 Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest [them] from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies. 28 But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest [them] from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies; 29 And testifiedst against them, that thou mightest bring them again unto thy law: yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not unto thy commandments, but sinned against thy judgments, (which if a man do, he shall live in them;) and withdrew the shoulder, and hardened their neck, and would not hear.
30 Yet many years didst thou forbear them, and testifiedst against them by thy spirit in thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the people of the lands. 31 Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou [art] a gracious and merciful God. 32 Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee, that hath come upon us, on our kings, on our princes, and on our priests, and on our prophets, and on our fathers, and on all thy people, since the time of the kings of Assyria unto this day.
33 Howbeit thou [art] just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly: 34 Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. 35 For they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land which thou gavest before them, neither turned they from their wicked works. 36 Behold, we [are] servants this day, and [for] the land that thou gavest unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we [are] servants in it: 37 And it yieldeth much increase unto the kings whom thou hast set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we [are] in great distress. 38 And because of all this we make a sure [covenant], and write [it]; and our princes, Levites, [and] priests, seal [unto it]. (Nehemiah 9:1-38 AV)
8:1-14 List of Ezra’s companions
1 These [are] now the chief of their fathers, and [this is] the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king. 2 Of the sons of Phinehas; Gershom: of the sons of Ithamar; Daniel: of the sons of David; Hattush. 3 Of the sons of Shechaniah, of the sons of Pharosh; Zechariah: and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males an hundred and fifty. 4 Of the sons of Pahathmoab; Elihoenai the son of Zerahiah, and with him two hundred males. 5 Of the sons of Shechaniah; the son of Jahaziel, and with him three hundred males. 6 Of the sons also of Adin; Ebed the son of Jonathan, and with him fifty males. 7 And of the sons of Elam; Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah, and with him seventy males. 8 And of the sons of Shephatiah; Zebadiah the son of Michael, and with him fourscore males. 9 Of the sons of Joab; Obadiah the son of Jehiel, and with him two hundred and eighteen males. 10 And of the sons of Shelomith; the son of Josiphiah, and with him an hundred and threescore males. 11 And of the sons of Bebai; Zechariah the son of Bebai, and with him twenty and eight males. 12 And of the sons of Azgad; Johanan the son of Hakkatan, and with him an hundred and ten males. 13 And of the last sons of
Adonikam, whose names [are] these, Eliphelet, Jeiel, and Shemaiah, and with them threescore males. 14 Of the sons also of Bigvai; Uthai, and Zabbud, and with them seventy males.
8:15-20 Sends for the Levites
15 And I gathered them together to the river that runneth to Ahava; and there abode we in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi. 16 Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, men of understanding. 17 And I sent them with commandment unto Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia, and I told them what they should say unto Iddo, [and] to his brethren the Nethinims, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring unto us ministers for the house of our God. 18 And by the good hand of our God upon us they brought us a man of understanding, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brethren, eighteen; 19 And Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brethren and their sons, twenty; 20 Also of the Nethinims, whom David and the princes had appointed for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinims: all of them were expressed by name.
8:21-23 Proclaims a fast
21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. 22 For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God [is] upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath [is] against all them that forsake him. 23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.
8:24-30 The treasure committed for the priests
24 Then I separated twelve of the chief of the priests, Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brethren with them, 25 And weighed unto them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, [even] the offering of the house of our God, which the king, and his counsellors, and his lords, and all Israel [there] present, had offered: 26 I even weighed unto their hand six hundred and fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, [and] of gold an hundred talents; 27 Also twenty basons of gold, of a thousand drams; and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold. 28 And I said unto them, Ye [are] holy unto the LORD; the vessels [are] holy also; and the silver and the gold [are] a freewill offering unto the LORD God of your fathers. 29 Watch ye, and keep [them], until ye weigh [them] before the chief of the priests and the Levites, and chief of the fathers of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of the LORD. 30 So took the priests and the Levites the weight of the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, to bring [them] to Jerusalem unto the house of our God.
8:31-36 Arrival in Jerusalem
31 Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth [day] of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way. 32 And we came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days. 33 Now on the fourth day was the silver and the gold and the vessels weighed in the house of our God by the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him [was] Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them [was] Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, Levites; 34 By number [and] by weight of every one: and all the weight was written at that time. 35 [Also] the children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats [for] a sin offering: all [this was] a burnt offering unto the LORD. 36 And they delivered the king’s commissions unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors on this side the river: and they furthered the people, and the house of God. (Ezra 8:1-36 AV)
9:1-15 Prayer of confession
1 Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, [doing] according to their abominations, [even] of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of [those] lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. 3 And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied. 4 Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.
5 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, 6 And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over [our] head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers [have] we [been] in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, [and] our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as [it is] this day. 8 And now for a little space grace hath been [shewed] from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage. 9 For we [were] bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. 10 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments,
11 Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. 12 Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave [it] for an inheritance to your children for ever. 13 And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities [deserve], and hast given us [such] deliverance as this; 14 Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed [us], so that [there should be] no remnant nor escaping? 15 O LORD God of Israel, thou [art] righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as [it is] this day: behold, we [are] before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this. (Ezra 9:1-15 AV)
10:1-17 Foreign wives and children put away
1 Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore. 2 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, [one] of the sons of Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. 3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. 4 Arise; for [this] matter [belongeth] unto thee: we also [will be] with thee: be of good courage, and do [it]. 5 Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.
6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and [when] he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away. 7 And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem; 8 And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away. 9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It [was] the ninth month, on the twentieth [day] of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of [this] matter, and for the great rain. 10 And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.
11 Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives. 12 Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do. 13 But the people [are] many, and [it is] a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither [is this] a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing. 14 Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.
15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this [matter]: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them. 16 And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, [with] certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by [their] names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. 17 And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month.
10:18-44 Those who put away foreign wives
18 And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: [namely], of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah. 19 And they gave their hands that they would put away their wives; and [being] guilty, [they offered] a ram of the flock for their trespass. 20 And of the sons of Immer; Hanani, and Zebadiah.
21 And of the sons of Harim; Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah. 22 And of the sons of Pashur; Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethaneel, Jozabad, and Elasah. 23 Also of the Levites; Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah, (the same [is] Kelita,) Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer. 24 Of the singers also; Eliashib: and of the porters; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri. 25 Moreover of Israel: of the sons of Parosh; Ramiah, and Jeziah, and Malchiah, and Miamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah. 26 And of the sons of Elam; Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Eliah.
27 And of the sons of Zattu; Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza. 28 Of the sons also of Bebai; Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, [and] Athlai. 29 And of the sons of Bani; Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, and Ramoth. 30 And of the sons of Pahathmoab; Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezaleel, and Binnui, and Manasseh. 31 And [of] the sons of Harim; Eliezer, Ishijah, Malchiah, Shemaiah, Shimeon, 32 Benjamin, Malluch, [and] Shemariah. 33 Of the sons of Hashum; Mattenai, Mattathah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, [and] Shimei. 34 Of the sons of Bani; Maadai, Amram, and Uel, 35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Chelluh, 36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib, 37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasau, 38 And Bani, and Binnui, Shimei, 39 And Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah, 40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai, 41 Azareel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah, 42 Shallum, Amariah, [and] Joseph. 43 Of the sons of Nebo; Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Jadau, and Joel, Benaiah. 44 All these had taken strange wives: and [some] of them had wives by whom they had children. (Ezra 10:1-44 AV)
This is the End of Ezra
4:1-16 Adversaries seek to stop the work
1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; 2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye [do]; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. 3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. 4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they [unto him] an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter [was] written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. 8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort: 9 Then [wrote] Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, [and] the Elamites, 10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest [that are] on this side the river, and at such a time. 11 This [is] the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, [even] unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time.
12 Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls [thereof], and joined the foundations. 13 Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up [again, then] will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and [so] thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings. 14 Now because we have maintenance from [the king’s] palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king; 15 That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city [is] a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. 16 We certify the king that, if this city be builded [again], and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.
4:17-24 The work suspended
17 [Then] sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and [to] Shimshai the scribe, and [to] the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and [unto] the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time. 18 The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. 19 And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and [that] rebellion and sedition have been made therein. 20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all [countries] beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. 21 Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until [another] commandment shall be given from me. 22 Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? 23 Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter [was] read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. 24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. (Ezra 4:1-24 AV)
5:1-17 The temple rebuilt
1 Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that [were] in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, [even] unto them. 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem: and with them [were] the prophets of God helping them.
3 At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall? 4 Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building? 5 But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this [matter]. 6 The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which [were] on this side the river, sent unto Darius the king: 7 They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace. 8 Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands. 9 Then asked we those elders, [and] said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls? 10 We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that [were] the chief of them. 11 And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up.
12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. 13 But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon [the same] king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. 14 And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that [was] in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto [one], whose name [was] Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 15 And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that [is] in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place. 16 Then came the same Sheshbazzar, [and] laid the foundation of the house of God which [is] in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and [yet] it is not finished. 17 Now therefore, if [it seem] good to the king, let there be search made in the king’s treasure house, which [is] there at Babylon, whether it be [so], that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter. (Ezra 5:1-17 AV)
6:1-12 Darius confirms the decree of Cyrus
1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. 2 And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that [is] in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein [was] a record thus written: 3 In the first year of Cyrus the king [the same] Cyrus the king made a decree [concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, [and] the breadth thereof threescore cubits; 4 [With] three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house: 5 And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, [every one] to his place, and place [them] in the house of God. 6 Now [therefore], Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which [are] beyond the river, be ye far from thence:
7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place. 8 Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, [even] of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. 9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which [are] at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: 10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. 11 Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. 12 And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter [and] to destroy this house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.
6:13-15 The temple finished
13 Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. 14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished [it], according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
6:16-22 The passover restored
16 And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy, 17 And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which [is] at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses. 19 And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth [day] of the first month. 20 For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them [were] pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. 21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat, 22 And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. (Ezra 6:1-22 AV)
7:1-10 Ezra goes to Jerusalem
1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, 2 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, 3 The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, 4 The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, 5 The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest: 6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he [was] a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. 7 And there went up [some] of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. 8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which [was] in the seventh year of the king. 9 For upon the first [day] of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first [day] of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. 10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do [it], and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
7:11-26 Commission of Artaxerxes
11 Now this [is] the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, [even] a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel. 12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect [peace], and at such a time. 13 I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and [of] his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. 14 Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which [is] in thine hand; 15 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation [is] in Jerusalem, 16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which [is] in Jerusalem: 17 That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which [is] in Jerusalem. 18 And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God. 19 The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, [those] deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.
20 And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow [it] out of the king’s treasure house. 21
And I, [even] I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which [are] beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, 22 Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing [how much]. 23 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? 24 Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them. 25 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that [is] in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that [are] beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know [them] not. 26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether [it be] unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
27 Blessed [be] the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put [such a thing] as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which [is] in Jerusalem: 28 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God [was] upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me. (Ezra 7:1-28 AV)
Ezra, had a royal commission that authorized him to “inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God” (v. 14). As a result, he and Nehemiah focused Israel’s new identity on the LORD GOD’s law brought forward from Moses. Israel was forced to focus on the form and content of religious life and practice, as the Babylon exiles returned as faithful Israelites, and reestablished their temple worship.
There were three groups of returns from Babylon to Judah. The first led to the rebuilding of the Temple of the LORD, the second was under Ezra, and was focused on reformation and returning to their covenant obligations, and the third was led by Nehemiah. The identity of the author of this book cannot be established with certainty, however, Jewish tradition names Ezra as the original author, with Nehemiah completing his work. Most modern scholars agree with this attribute to Ezra, “the chronicler”.
1:1-4 Proclamation of Cyrus
1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and [put it] also in writing, saying, 2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. 3 Who [is there] among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he [is] the God,) which [is] in Jerusalem. 4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with
goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that [is] in Jerusalem.
1:5-11 The return of the exiles to Jerusalem
5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all [them] whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which [is] in Jerusalem. 6 And all they that [were] about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all [that] was willingly offered. 7 Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; 8 Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. 9 And this [is] the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives, 10 Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second [sort] four hundred and ten, [and] other vessels a thousand. 11 All the vessels of gold and of silver [were] five thousand and four hundred. All [these] did Sheshbazzar bring up with [them of] the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1-11 AV)
2:1-70 Those who returned from captivity
1 Now these [are] the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city; 2 Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel: 3 The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two. 4 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two. 5 The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five. 6 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua [and] Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve. 7 The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. 8 The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five. 9 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore. 10 The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two. 11 The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three. 12 The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two. 13 The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six. 14 The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six. 15 The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four. 16 The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.
17 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three. 18 The children of Jorah, an hundred and twelve. 19 The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three. 20 The children of Gibbar, ninety and five. 21 The children of Bethlehem, an hundred twenty and three. 22 The men of Netophah, fifty and six. 23 The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight. 24 The children of Azmaveth, forty and two. 25 The children of Kirjatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty and three. 26 The children of Ramah and Gaba, six hundred twenty and one. 27 The men of Michmas, an hundred twenty and two. 28 The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty and three. 29 The children of Nebo, fifty and two. 30 The children of Magbish, an hundred fifty and six. 31 The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four. 32 The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty. 33 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and five. 34 The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five. 35 The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty.
36 The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three. 37 The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two. 38 The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven. 39 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen. 40 The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four. 41 The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight. 42 The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, [in] all an hundred thirty and nine. 43 The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth, 44 The children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon, 45 The children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub, 46 The children of Hagab, the children of Shalmai, the children of Hanan, 47 The children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah, 48 The children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam, 49 The children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai, 50 The children of Asnah, the children of Mehunim, the children of Nephusim,
51 The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur, 52 The children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha, 53 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Thamah, 54 The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha. 55 The children of Solomon’s servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda, 56 The children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel, 57 The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Ami. 58 All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon’s servants, [were] three hundred ninety and two. 59 And these [were] they which went up from Telmelah, Telharsa, Cherub, Addan, [and] Immer: but they could not shew their father’s house, and their seed, whether they [were] of Israel: 60 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two. 61 And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name: 62 These sought their register [among] those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. 63 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.
64 The whole congregation together [was] forty and two thousand three hundred [and] threescore, 65 Beside their servants and their maids, of whom [there were] seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and [there were] among them two hundred singing men and singing women. 66 Their horses [were] seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five; 67 Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; [their] asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty. 68 And [some] of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which [is] at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: 69 They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments. 70 So the priests, and the Levites, and [some] of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities. (Ezra 2:1-70 AV)
3:1-7 The restoration of worship
1 And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel [were] in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as [it is] written in the law of Moses the man of God. 3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear [was] upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, [even] burnt offerings morning and evening. 4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as [it is] written, and [offered] the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; 5 And afterward [offered] the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD. 6 From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not [yet] laid. 7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
3:8-13 The rebuilding of the temple begun
8 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD. 9 Then stood Jeshua [with] his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and
his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, [with] their sons and their brethren the Levites. 10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because [he is] good, for his mercy [endureth] for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, [who were] ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: 13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off. (Ezra 3:1-13 AV)
It would seem logical that 2 Esdras would somehow continue the story of 1 Esdras (much like 1 and 2 Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles). That, however, is not the case. The only thing they really have in common is that they both attribute their authorship to Ezra (which is Esdras in Greek). We already know from our study of 1 Esdras that it was written long after Ezra’s death. Such is also the case with 2 Esdras. It is unknown why the authors pseudonymously used Ezra’s name.
Scholars agree that 2 Esdras is actually a compilation of three separate works, none of which have anything to do with the time of Ezra. The prophet, Ezra, is a visionary in these writings. In the first section, chapters 1-2, Ezra basically affirms the rejection of the Jews in favor of the Christian Church. It is believed that Christians wrote these chapters themselves, probably around the middle of the second century CE. The second section is the longest and is comprised of chapters 3-14. This is an apocalyptic composition that addresses God’s plans for the future of Israel. It is believed that Jews wrote this piece around 100 CE. The last two chapters, 15-16, are the third section. This was also written by Christians and is thought to be even later than the first section, possibly written in the third century CE. It is comprised of oracles of doom addressed to the enemies of God’s people who are now represented by the Christian Church.
Putting them into chronological order, most scholars refer to chapters 3-14 as 4 Ezra, chapters 1-2 as 5 Esdras, and chapters 15-16 as 6 Esdras. It is completely unknown who, how, or why these were put together as one apocryphal book. The original documents (written in Hebrew and Greek) have been lost. Our only knowledge of these books comes from Latin translations. The composite works can be found in the Slavonic Bible under the heading of 3 Esdras and in the Latin Bible as 4 Esdras. English translations label them as 2 Esdras. It seems really confusing. But for the purposes of our study, we will refer to the individual sections as 5, 4, and 6 Esdras.
2 Esdras 1-2 (5 Esdras) portends to be Ezra’s prophecy about the rejection of Israel. There is a lot of prophetic language, obviously meant to give the book authenticity. According to this book, Ezra was the messenger for God’s prophecies. The book is historically set in the time of the Persians, back in the fifth century BCE. Ezra prophecies about the world of Christianity that would be in place by the second century CE. Whoever actually wrote this had a good command of Scripture, prophecy, and apocalypticism.
Though comprised of only two chapters, 5 Esdras played a huge role in the early Church. Its message affirmed that Jews were suffering because they had failed to obey God’s laws (a huge issue in the historical time of Ezra). God was patient and merciful, but Israel’s transgressions were so onerous that God transferred the identity of “God’s people” to the Christian Church. The Jews totally brought this upon themselves and God’s actions were an example of his justice. In short, this is supposed to explain how the Christian Church became the replacement for a fallen Israel. In other words, the Christian Church superseded the nation of Israel. Unfortunately, this concept of supercessionism really caught on and has dominated Jewish-Christian relations ever since. Modern scholars are revisiting this issue in their attempts to promote a better dialogue between Jews and Christians.
2 Esdras 3-14 (4 Esdras) is an apocalyptic work written by Jews around 100 CE. This section is comprised of three separate dialogues (3:1-5:20; 5:21-6:34; 6:35-9:25). Ezra, as a scribe, raises various theological questions that are answered by the angel Uriel. These basically have to do with the end times and the signs that will accompany “the age to come.” Following the dialogues are three dreams and their interpretations: a mourning woman (9:26-10:59); the eagle and the lion (11:1-12:51); and the man from the sea (13:1-58). The last verse includes God’s instructions to Ezra and a notation about him being a scribe. Some people prefer to think of 4 Esdras as comprised of seven separate units, but many scholars think it should be addressed as a whole.
In this section Ezra, as a scribe in exile, asks many hard questions about life in exile. He really struggles with the ageless question: “Why do good people suffer?” It is his attempt to explain how God’s people could be oppressed by nations far more wicked than Israel ever was. Some liken him to Job in that he relentlessly questions God’s plan and eventually comes to accept God’s will while hoping for a better life in the world to come. Uriel is the angel, sent by God, who explains and interprets for Ezra. At times, it is not clear whether it is the angel or God Himself who is speaking, but that is quite common in the Hebrew Scriptures. The prime question, of course, is, “How could this [the exile] have happened to God’s people?” The answer, of course, is sin. This leads Ezra to question the origin of sin and its control in humans’ lives. Since people can’t resist sinning, he questions God’s justice.
In a manner similar to his encounter with Job, God does not respond to Ezra directly but offers a different solution – the ushering in of the new age. It speaks to the fact that sin is so rampant that it cannot be eradicated. This world simply needs to end. Then God’s justice will be evident and complete. 4 Ezra speaks about the cosmic signs that will signal the end of time. He also refers to “my son the Messiah” (who has to die). Like many other apocalyptic works, 4 Esdras acknowledges God’s work in the present though it is unseen. It will only become evident once the “new age” has arrived.
Once again, this second section appears to be set in the time of Ezra, but scholars believe it was written around 100 CE. This was still a difficult time for Jews because the Romans were clearly in charge. This would also be after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple [70 CE] and a time when Jews were highly harassed and possibly persecuted. According to this book, Jews expected the “new age” to come soon. Needless to say, much of the book is modeled after Daniel, another Jewish apocalyptic book set in the time of Nebuchadnezzar but written in the second century BCE.
2 Esdras 15-16 (6 Esdras) is comprised of oracles anticipating the demise of God’s enemies while offering encouragement to those who are being persecuted. Most scholars believe this is actually a Christian document dating back to the third century CE, but the evidence is not as convincing as it was with 2 Esdras 1-2. Nonetheless, Christians were having a rough time in the Roman Empire during this time, so it fits historically. The whole idea is that they should continue to be faithful because the end of time is near; God is about to intervene in the world.
It is again set in the time of Ezra, who is called to prophesy for God. The prophecy is that the nations will be punished for persecuting God’s “elect.” The main issue seems to be that the persecuting nations (Rome) have forced people to eat food sacrificed to idols. In so doing, God’s judgment on the nations will be irreversible and imminent. It is for this reason that God’s people should remain steadfast. Moreover, these events will be happening soon and God will deliver those who have been faithful.
Several scholars have pointed out that if this book really was written in the third century, it offers a peek into what Christian life was like at that time. Plus, it shows that Christians simply appropriated Jewish apocalypticism into their own situation. Needless to say, there are many parallels with the book of Revelation. The book ends with a warning and a promise. The warning is not to become involved in evil ways; the promise is that they will be rescued. Enemies who have oppressed and killed God’s people will, in turn, be dealt with harshly. God is a God of justice and God’s people can depend on this.
There are three separate sections to this letter: Chapters 1-2 – God’s Rejection of Israel; Chapters 3-14 – A Jewish Apocalypse; Chapters 15-16 – Oracles Against God’s Enemies.
I – 1:1-2:48 – God’s Rejection of Israel
This establishes his priestly descent going back to Aaron, son of Levi
It also establishes he was a captive in the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia
This presumes the historical time of the exile when Ezra returned to Jerusalem
Word of the Lord
This prophetic formula was never used of Ezra
Indictment of sins
Litany of Israel’s sins
Despite God’s many mercies, Israel has failed to be obedient
They have also sacrificed to other gods
Ezra is to “pluck out his hair” – a sign of God’s anger
Calamities will ensue upon those who have disobeyed the law
God repeats all the wondrous things He has done for Israel
Historical review of God’s dealings with His people
Description of God’s deliverance at Red Sea
He gave them light from a pillar of fire
He gave them quail as a sign and water from a rock
When they murmured against Him, He gave them manna – the bread of angels
He gave them fertile lands and expelled the inhabitants who opposed them
When they cursed God, He gave them sweet water to drink
“What more could I do for you?”
“Because you have turned from me, I will turn to other nations”
Israel has brought all this upon itself
God has not deserted them; they have deserted God
Israel’s rejection is final
God is concerned for Israel
Israel’s rejection was not God’s original plan
He was a father and a mother to them; He gathered them as a hen gathers her chicks
Israel failed to respond; now she will be rejected
A new people to come
There is a new group that will take Israel’s place
This would be the Christian Church
“I will hand over your houses” – a symbolic transfer of Israel’s status
These new people “have not known me”
This is a possible reference to Gentile Christians
This nation will come “from the east”
Its leaders will be the patriarchs and prophets of old
It is not clear why they will be coming from the “east”
(It is a possible reference to the place where this was written)
In that sense, Christianity was moving westward
The Christian Church will take over from the Jews
God will judge Israel
Israel’s response to God’s saving deeds has been to be disobedient
Jerusalem is depicted as the mother of this nation
Now she is widowed and deserted; she has lost her children
It is this mother that confirms their sins and proclaims God’s judgment against them
Their punishment will involve being scattered among the nations
Their name will vanish from the earth
Assyria is included because they have harbored Jews
Promises for the new people
They will be given the kingdom that had been offered to Jerusalem
Christians are exhorted to pray that this happens as soon as possible
Heaven and earth will be witnesses of this event
Assurances for the Church
God assures them that He will care for and protect them
The image of a mother now refers to the Church
She will rear her children joyfully, without fear
Author refers to imagery from Revelation – twelve trees with twelve fruits
Images from Jewish tradition are handed over to Church
Jewish expectations for handling the dead, caring for widowed and orphans are now expected of Church
This all describes a complete passing on of the mantle
The rewards of the kingdom
Christians should look forward to the coming of the shepherd
He will give everlasting rest
They should observe the blessings of those who already have rest
Again, they are to pray that this all comes to pass soon
2:42-48 Ezra’s vision
A large crowd on Mount Zion sings praises to God
A tall man was placing a crown on each person’s head
These are the people who have acknowledged the name of God
The tall man is the Son of God
Whatever problems Christians were having, they will be resolved
Martyrs were given an honored place in God’s final victory
II – 3:1-14:48 – A Jewish Apocalypse
3:1-5:20 The first dialogue
3:1-36 Ezra’s lament
First, he reviews God’s history with people
Adam was created and given life in the garden
He sinned and brought death into the world
Then there was the flood, but Noah was spared
Then there was Abraham and the promises made to
People continued sinning and ended up in Egypt
God rescued them from Egypt and gave them the law
He did not remove their wicked hearts
Still, he led them into the Promised Land
People continued sinning, so God gave them a king (David)
Even that didn’t stop them from sinning, so God sent them into exile
Yet, the conquerors (Babylonians) were far worse than Israel ever was
It appeared as though God tolerated their sins and wickedness
“Has anyone kept your commandments like Israel?”
“How can anyone understand your ways?”
4:1-50 Uriel’s response
He is sent to Ezra to help him understand
Basically, his main point is that it is impossible for men to understand God’s ways
He has three illustrations for Ezra to consider
If Ezra can explain any one of them, the angel will
explain it all to him
He will answer his question about the way of the Most High
He will teach him why the heart is wicked
Ezra invites him to speak
The angel tells him to “weigh a pound of fire,” to measure a bushel of wind,” or “call back a day that has passed”
Ezra acknowledges no man could do that
More impossible tasks are given
“If you cannot understand things you have grown up
with, how can your small capacity comprehend God”
Ezra cries out in despair at which point the angel
follows with a parable
The parable involves a revolt by the trees who want to
roll back the sea
At the same time the sea wants to get rid of all trees
Fire thwarts the trees; sand blocks the sea
The angel asks: which was right and which was wrong
Ezra acknowledges that they were both wrong
They each have their own place
Uriel says this is true for men and God as well
Ezra cries out again – why wasn’t he given the gift of understanding
He does want to know abut things on earth
Like why has Israel been handed over to the godless Babylonians?
The angel answers that he must wait for the new age to come
Then all will be made clear
Evil must first run its course; judgment will take place
Evil in the world goes way beyond Israel’s problems
Ezra, of course, wants to know when all this will happen
The angel tells him it is not for him to know
The Lord will act when the appointed time has come
The appointed time will not be affected by the sins of
Then Ezra asked if the past exceeds the future
He is given a vision of fire and a storm
Yes, we are nearer the end of the present age than the beginning
4:51-5:20 Signs of the end
Ezra wants to know if he will live to see the end
The angel can’t tell him that but does give signs of the end
These are typical apocalyptic signs
Increase in chaos, confusion, and wickedness
A complete reversal of the natural order of things
Upon hearing all this, Ezra is very upset
He is told to pray for seven days
The second dialogue
At the end of seven days, Ezra is again disturbed
Using a variety of images, Ezra describes the choosing of Israel
The problem: God first chose her then put her at the mercy of others
If God really wanted to punish her, he should have done so Himself
How could He use people who were more wicked than Israel
Uriel comes back again
The angel asks if Ezra loves Israel more than God does
Ezra says he knows God loves Israel
The instructions are the same – do what is impossible for man but easy for God
Of course Ezra cannot
God’s judgments and God’s love cannot be understood by people
Ezra then asks why God’s judgments are delayed
A delay in judgment doesn’t help those living now
God’s plan for the world must go until the appointed time
Ezra then asks for more information about that appointed time
How near is it?
Will it come through someone? – no, only through God
(Scholars think this was meant to counter Christianity’s understanding of Jesus)
What interval is there between then and now?
This is followed by more signs of the end
Again, there is a reversal of what is expected
After all this, those who are left will be preserved
Wickedness will be blotted out; fidelity will flourish
Ezra then feels the ground shake and is told again to pray for seven days
The third dialogue
It is similar to the first two but has a greater emphasis on sin and its consequences
After praying for seven days, Ezra is again disturbed
He reflects upon the seven days of creation
All this was created for the benefit of “our sake,” yet those nations that count for nothing are ruling over “your people”
Why does Israel not have possession of the world that was created for her?
The angel comes again to respond
What Ezra said is true
Yet, because of sin the world is a dangerous place
Israel must endure the hardships of this world before she will be able to experience the blessings of the world to come
This may be so, according to Ezra, but the wicked are still treated unfairly
If those who are good will be rewarded at the end, what awaits the wicked
They suffer here too, but get nothing in the end
The angel refutes Ezra’s sympathy for the wicked
They get what they deserve
Argument is put on hold while additional apocalyptic images are described
This includes the reign of the Messiah that will mark the end of the age
As far as the Jews were concerned, this Messiah had not yet arrived
The Messiah would usher in a 400 year rule (of joy and peace), then he would die
Seven days of silence would be followed by the final judgment
Then the new age will begin
The argument is resumed; Ezra tries a new approach
This promise of reward is great, but will anyone really qualify for it
Everyone sins at some point
So when the Lord talks about punishing the wicked, He will end up having to punish almost everyone
In response, the angel compares what is valuable to what is common
In metals, gold is scarce and more valuable than clay
But which would you rather have
God will have joy in the few who are saved because they will have made His glory prevail
The many who are not saved are no more than a “vapor, flame, or smoke”
Given the angel’s heartless attitude, Ezra says it would have been better if man had never been created
All men will be judged because all men fall short
Maybe it would have been better if there simply was no judgment at all
Angel replies that it is man’s own fault for sinning
God has been patient, forgiving
Man was given the law and chose to ignore it
Therefore, man has brought judgment on himself
He will have no defense on the last day
Though Ezra asks for more information about the torment that awaits, the angel is clear – he will not be included in those facing torment
Those who are righteous will have different experiences from those who are not
There are seven stages that occur after death for both groups
The wicked begin their torment immediately
The righteous are in a state of joy and will be rewarded
The righteous, however, cannot intercede for the wicked
On the Day of Judgment, each will be accountable for his own actions
Ezra reminds the angel that people used to be able to intercede for each other
The angel replies that the Day of Judgment inaugurates a new age
Things will be different
Ezra again laments that it would have been better if Adam had never been born
Or at least that Adam would not have been able to sin
Basically, he is questioning God’s sense of fairness
Angel simply repeats that man is accountable for his own choices
Ezra presses the point that God is compassionate and merciful
Maybe through that, sinners can be saved
Angel replies that many have been created but only a few will be saved
After this, Ezra appeals directly to God to show mercy to His people
Despite the angel’s rebuttal, he prays for more understanding
He desperately wants to make sense of all this
He knows that God created man and cannot believe that He would then turn around and destroy him
Finally, though, he leaves it in God’s hands
Ultimately, the angel rejects his argument advising him to think about his own future rather than the torment that awaits the wicked
They have reached an impasse of sorts
The dialogue ends with another request for signs that the end is near
Again Ezra is told to pray for seven days
The first vision
Ezra no longer questions God, but admits that God’s ways are just
After seven days, he again addresses the Most High
In thinking about the world, he sees that Israel was given the law
They disobeyed the law and for that they were destroyed, yet the law survived
Generally, when the container is destroyed, the contents are also destroyed
This is different and contrary to the natural world
His musings are interrupted by a grieving woman
She is mourning her son who was born after years of barrenness
He dropped dead on his wedding night
She, therefore, wants to die
Ezra rebukes her saying she should be mourning for Jerusalem
Then he contrasts her loss with that of the earth’s
How many young men has the earth lost
She should put her own loss in perspective
While he is still speaking, she is suddenly transformed into a city
Ezra has no idea what this means and cries out for Uriel
Uriel appears and identifies the woman as Zion
The birth and death of her son corresponds to the rise and fall of Jerusalem
Because Ezra had compassion for the woman, he saw the vision of the restored city
The vision of the eagle and the lion
Two nights later, Ezra saw another vision
In this one, a monstrous creature rose from the sea – an eagle with twelve wings, eight rival wings, and three heads
The wings and heads rule over the earth for a time, then disappear
Eventually, only one head and two wings remain
Then a lion comes and rebukes the eagle for oppressing the earth
The lion says its time for the eagle to go
The eagle immediately bursts into flames and disappears
Ezra asks for an interpretation of this dream
Uriel states the eagle symbolizes Rome
The heads and wings are Emperors
The rival wings are great military commanders who try to seize power
The end of the eagle signifies the end of the Roman Empire
This is all part of God’s plan
The lion represents the Messiah who confronts the evil rulers
It is the Messiah who will bring them all to judgment
Ezra is told to write this vision in a book and share it with others
In the meantime, people are noticing that Ezra has been gone a long time
They think he has abandoned them
He tells them that he had come to pray for Zion and to beg for mercy
The people returned to their homes to wait for him
The third vision – a man from the sea
The man from the sea provides more details of the Messiah
The Messiah will come not only to destroy the Roman Empire but also all of God’s enemies
Then he will gather the twelve tribes to live in the messianic kingdom
Ezra sees a vision of a man rising out of the sea
He goes to the top of a mountain
Hordes of men gather to wage war against him
Instead of fighting the men, the Messiah simply opened his mouth
Out came fire, flame, and a storm of sparks
Without a sound, the fire burned up the hordes
The Messiah then gathered up other men, some with joy on their faces
Others full of sorrow
Ezra asked what this vision meant
This time it is unclear whether God or the angel responds
The man from the sea is the Messiah
He will take his stand on Mount Zion and defeat all who oppose him
He will then gather a peaceful company
These are the ten tribes from Assyria
They will join the others who are already in Palestine
The Messiah will protect his people who are left
Ezra wanted to know why this man came up from the sea
The answer to that question was beyond his ability to understand
These visions were given to Ezra because of his character
He has devoted himself to studying the law and the wonders of God
The writing of the sacred books
These verses are very different from the rest
They are comprised of a story about Ezra
As his life is coming to an end, he is instructed to warn the nations
Ezra worries who will instruct them after he is gone
He says that the law was destroyed in the fire (destruction of Jerusalem)
He asks for permission to restore the writings
God grants this permission
He is to tell the people he will be gone for 40 days
He is to bring several good scribes
God will “light a lamp of understanding in his mind”
Ezra follows these instructions to the letter
Then he took with him five scribes and began to dictate what he was told
The scribes wrote non-stop for forty days
At the end of that time, they had written ninety-four books
Some books were to be held back to be given only to the wise
And so he did
III – 15:1-16:78 – Oracles Against God’s Enemies
God will wreak vengeance on the wicked
The prophet is instructed to announce God’s words
The words should be written down
They should not fear any plots against themselves
God is about to let loose his vengeance
15:5-9 The wicked have been persecuting the innocent
The blood of the innocents have cried to the Lord for vengeance
15:10-13 God will deliver His people from Egypt
Egypt will be struck down with plagues
Its land will be destroyed; seed will not grow; trees will be devastated by hail
15:14-19 Description of chaos
In the aftermath of this destruction will be chaos
Nation will fight against nation
No one will show pity on another
Judgment for kings and rulers
Kings will reap what they have sown
Those who have tormented the innocent will be tormented
Those who have sinned will reap death and destruction
Hordes of dragons will come from Arabia
Judgment on Babylon
Images of storm clouds represent nations attacking Rome
Historical events might be behind this imagery
Clearly the author thought Rome was about to fall
Judgment on Asia
This probably refers to eastern Rome
The point of the two prophecies is that it will encompass all nations
Judgments are irreversible
God’s judgments are already in progress
Nothing can stop it
The passage is addressed to Babylon, Asia, Egypt, and Syria
This would encompass the whole Roman Empire
Many disasters are described, but cannot be tied to specific events
Horrors of the last days
Despite the catastrophes people will continue their evil ways
Destruction will be complete
Most people will die; the earth will be left a desert
Advice to the faithful
The end is compared to childbirth
Birth pangs are inevitable and only last for a short time
There will be an increase in evil
God knows men’s sins
Those who have sinned (everyone) should not deny their sins
God already sees them as well as their innermost thoughts
They cannot hide; God will call everyone to account
It is better to abandon their wicked ways
Then God “will set you free from all distress”
Assurance for those who are persecuted
Those who fear the Lord will be targets for persecution
Horrible events are described
Nonetheless, they should remain faithful
God will rescue them; they should not fear or doubt
Those who are wicked will be shut off and doomed to destruction by fire
2 Esdras is a composite of three different works, covering three different time periods. The main portion of it is a response to the hardships facing Judaism shortly after the destruction of the temple. This section, along with the other two, have been appropriated by Christians to provide encouragement during their own times of persecutions. The historical setting probably reflects times that were so bad that believers felt God had to intervene. It also wrestles with the notion of sin and its consequences: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
2 Esdras Chapter 1:1-40
1 The second book of the prophet Esdras, the son of Saraias, the son of Azarias, the son of Helchias, the son of Sadamias, the son of Sadoc, the son of Achitob,
2 The son of Achias, the son of Phinees, the son of Heli, the son of Amarias, the son of Aziei, the son of Marimoth, the son of Borith, the son of Abisei, the son of Phinees, the son of Eleazar,
3 The son of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi; which was captive in the land of the Medes, in the reign of Artexerxes king of the Persians.
4 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
5 Go thy way, and shew my people their sinful deeds, and their children their wickedness which they have done against me; that they may tell their children’s children:
6 Because the sins of their fathers are increased in them: for they have forgotten me, and have offered unto strange gods.
7 Am not I even he that brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage? but they have provoked me unto wrath, and despised my counsels.
8 Pull thou off then the hair of thy head, and cast all evil upon them, for they have not been obedient unto my law, but it is a rebellious people.
9 How long shall I forbear them, into whom I have done so much good?
10 Many kings have I destroyed for their sakes; Pharaoh with his servants and all his power have I smitten down.
11 All the nations have I destroyed before them, and in the east I have scattered the people of two provinces, even of Tyrus and Sidon, and have slain all their enemies.
12 Speak thou therefore unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord,
13 I led you through the sea and in the beginning gave you a large and safe passage; I gave you Moses for a leader, and Aaron for a priest.
14 I gave you light in a pillar of fire, and great wonders have I done among you; yet have ye forgotten me, saith the Lord.
15 Thus saith the Almighty Lord, The quails were as a token to you; I gave you tents for your safeguard: nevertheless ye murmured there,
16 And triumphed not in my name for the destruction of your enemies, but ever to this day do ye yet murmur.
17 Where are the benefits that I have done for you? when ye were hungry and thirsty in the wilderness, did ye not cry unto me,
18 Saying, Why hast thou brought us into this wilderness to kill us? it had been better for us to have served the Egyptians, than to die in this wilderness.
19 Then had I pity upon your mournings, and gave you manna to eat; so ye did eat angels’ bread.
20 When ye were thirsty, did I not cleave the rock, and waters flowed out to your fill? for the heat I covered you with the leaves of the trees.
21 I divided among you a fruitful land, I cast out the Canaanites, the Pherezites, and the Philistines, before you: what shall I yet do more for you? saith the Lord.
22 Thus saith the Almighty Lord, When ye were in the wilderness, in the river of the Amorites, being athirst, and blaspheming my name,
23 I gave you not fire for your blasphemies, but cast a tree in the water, and made the river sweet.
24 What shall I do unto thee, O Jacob? thou, Juda, wouldest not obey me: I will turn me to other nations, and unto those will I give my name, that they may keep my statutes.
25 Seeing ye have forsaken me, I will forsake you also; when ye desire me to be gracious unto you, I shall have no mercy upon you.
26 Whensoever ye shall call upon me, I will not hear you: for ye have defiled your hands with blood, and your feet are swift to commit manslaughter.
27 Ye have not as it were forsaken me, but your own selves, saith the Lord.
28 Thus saith the Almighty Lord, Have I not prayed you as a father his sons, as a mother her daughters, and a nurse her young babes,
29 That ye would be my people, and I should be your God; that ye would be my children, and I should be your father?
30 I gathered you together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings: but now, what shall I do unto you? I will cast you out from my face.
31 When ye offer unto me, I will turn my face from you: for your solemn feastdays, your new moons, and your circumcisions, have I forsaken.
32 I sent unto you my servants the prophets, whom ye have taken and slain, and torn their bodies in pieces, whose blood I will require of your hands, saith the Lord.
33 Thus saith the Almighty Lord, Your house is desolate, I will cast you out as the wind doth stubble.
34 And your children shall not be fruitful; for they have despised my commandment, and done the thing that is an evil before me.
35 Your houses will I give to a people that shall come; which not having heard of me yet shall believe me; to whom I have shewed no signs, yet they shall do that I have commanded them.
36 They have seen no prophets, yet they shall call their sins to remembrance, and acknowledge them.
37 I take to witness the grace of the people to come, whose little ones rejoice in gladness: and though they have not seen me with bodily eyes, yet in spirit they believe the thing that I say.
38 And now, brother, behold what glory; and see the people that come from the east:
39 Unto whom I will give for leaders, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Oseas, Amos, and Micheas, Joel, Abdias, and Jonas,
40 Nahum, and Abacuc, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zachary, and Malachy, which is called also an angel of the Lord.
2 Esdras Chapter 2:1-48
1 Thus saith the Lord, I brought this people out of bondage, and I gave them my commandments by menservants the prophets; whom they would not hear, but despised my counsels.
2 The mother that bare them saith unto them, Go your way, ye children; for I am a widow and forsaken.
3 I brought you up with gladness; but with sorrow and heaviness have I lost you: for ye have sinned before the Lord your God, and done that thing that is evil before him.
4 But what shall I now do unto you? I am a widow and forsaken: go your way, O my children, and ask mercy of the Lord.
5 As for me, O father, I call upon thee for a witness over the mother of these children, which would not keep my covenant,
6 That thou bring them to confusion, and their mother to a spoil, that there may be no offspring of them.
7 Let them be scattered abroad among the heathen, let their names be put out of the earth: for they have despised my covenant.
8 Woe be unto thee, Assur, thou that hidest the unrighteous in thee! O thou wicked people, remember what I did unto Sodom and Gomorrha;
9 Whose land lieth in clods of pitch and heaps of ashes: even so also will I do unto them that hear me not, saith the Almighty Lord.
10 Thus saith the Lord unto Esdras, Tell my people that I will give them the kingdom of Jerusalem, which I would have given unto Israel.
11 Their glory also will I take unto me, and give these the everlasting tabernacles, which I had prepared for them.
12 They shall have the tree of life for an ointment of sweet savour; they shall neither labour, nor be weary.
13 Go, and ye shall receive: pray for few days unto you, that they may be shortened: the kingdom is already prepared for you: watch.
14 Take heaven and earth to witness; for I have broken the evil in pieces, and created the good: for I live, saith the Lord.
15 Mother, embrace thy children, and bring them up with gladness, make their feet as fast as a pillar: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord.
16 And those that be dead will I raise up again from their places, and bring them out of the graves: for I have known my name in Israel.
17 Fear not, thou mother of the children: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord.
18 For thy help will I send my servants Esau and Jeremy, after whose counsel I have sanctified and prepared for thee twelve trees laden with divers fruits,
19 And as many fountains flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains, whereupon there grow roses and lilies, whereby I will fill thy children with joy.
20 Do right to the widow, judge for the fatherless, give to the poor, defend the orphan, clothe the naked,
21 Heal the broken and the weak, laugh not a lame man to scorn, defend the maimed, and let the blind man come into the sight of my clearness.
22 Keep the old and young within thy walls.
23 Wheresoever thou findest the dead, take them and bury them, and I will give thee the first place in my resurrection.
24 Abide still, O my people, and take thy rest, for thy quietness still come.
25 Nourish thy children, O thou good nurse; stablish their feet.
26 As for the servants whom I have given thee, there shall not one of them perish; for I will require them from among thy number.
27 Be not weary: for when the day of trouble and heaviness cometh, others shall weep and be sorrowful, but thou shalt be merry and have abundance.
28 The heathen shall envy thee, but they shall be able to do nothing against thee, saith the Lord.
29 My hands shall cover thee, so that thy children shall not see hell.
30 Be joyful, O thou mother, with thy children; for I will deliver thee, saith the Lord.
31 Remember thy children that sleep, for I shall bring them out of the sides of the earth, and shew mercy unto them: for I am merciful, saith the Lord Almighty.
32 Embrace thy children until I come and shew mercy unto them: for my wells run over, and my grace shall not fail.
33 I Esdras received a charge of the Lord upon the mount Oreb, that I should go unto Israel; but when I came unto them, they set me at nought, and despised the commandment of the Lord.
34 And therefore I say unto you, O ye heathen, that hear and understand, look for your Shepherd, he shall give you everlasting rest; for he is nigh at hand, that shall come in the end of the world.
35 Be ready to the reward of the kingdom, for the everlasting light shall shine upon you for evermore.
36 Flee the shadow of this world, receive the joyfulness of your glory: I testify my Saviour openly.
37 O receive the gift that is given you, and be glad, giving thanks unto him that hath led you to the heavenly kingdom.
38 Arise up and stand, behold the number of those that be sealed in the feast of the Lord;
39 Which are departed from the shadow of the world, and have received glorious garments of the Lord.
40 Take thy number, O Sion, and shut up those of thine that are clothed in white, which have fulfilled the law of the Lord.
41 The number of thy children, whom thou longedst for, is fulfilled: beseech the power of the Lord, that thy people, which have been called from the beginning, may be hallowed.
42 I Esdras saw upon the mount Sion a great people, whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs.
43 And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon every one of their heads he set crowns, and was more exalted; which I marvelled at greatly.
44 So I asked the angel, and said, Sir, what are these?
45 He answered and said unto me, These be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God: now are they crowned, and receive palms.
46 Then said I unto the angel, What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their hands?
47 So he answered and said unto me, It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord.
48 Then the angel said unto me, Go thy way, and tell my people what manner of things, and how great wonders of the Lord thy God, thou hast seen.
2 Esdras Chapter 3:1-36
1 In the thirtieth year after the ruin of the city I was in Babylon, and lay troubled upon my bed, and my thoughts came up over my heart:
2 For I saw the desolation of Sion, and the wealth of them that dwelt at Babylon.
3 And my spirit was sore moved, so that I began to speak words full of fear to the most High, and said,
4 O Lord, who bearest rule, thou spakest at the beginning, when thou didst plant the earth, and that thyself alone, and commandedst the people,
5 And gavest a body unto Adam without soul, which was the workmanship of thine hands, and didst breathe into him the breath of life, and he was made living before thee.
6 And thou leadest him into paradise, which thy right hand had planted, before ever the earth came forward.
7 And unto him thou gavest commandment to love thy way: which he transgressed, and immediately thou appointedst death in him and in his generations, of whom came nations, tribes, people, and kindreds, out of number.
8 And every people walked after their own will, and did wonderful things before thee, and despised thy commandments.
9 And again in process of time thou broughtest the flood upon those that dwelt in the world, and destroyedst them.
10 And it came to pass in every of them, that as death was to Adam, so was the flood to these.
11 Nevertheless one of them thou leftest, namely, Noah with his household, of whom came all righteous men.
12 And it happened, that when they that dwelt upon the earth began to multiply, and had gotten them many children, and were a great people, they began again to be more ungodly than the first.
13 Now when they lived so wickedly before thee, thou didst choose thee a man from among them, whose name was Abraham.
14 Him thou lovedst, and unto him only thou shewedst thy will:
15 And madest an everlasting covenant with him, promising him that thou wouldest never forsake his seed.
16 And unto him thou gavest Isaac, and unto Isaac also thou gavest Jacob and Esau. As for Jacob, thou didst choose him to thee, and put by Esau: and so Jacob became a great multitude.
17 And it came to pass, that when thou leadest his seed out of Egypt, thou broughtest them up to the mount Sinai.
18 And bowing the heavens, thou didst set fast the earth, movedst the whole world, and madest the depths to tremble, and troubledst the men of that age.
19 And thy glory went through four gates, of fire, and of earthquake, and of wind, and of cold; that thou mightest give the law unto the seed of Jacob, and diligence unto the generation of Israel.
20 And yet tookest thou not away from them a wicked heart, that thy law might bring forth fruit in them.
21 For the first Adam bearing a wicked heart transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are born of him.
22 Thus infirmity was made permanent; and the law (also) in the heart of the people with the malignity of the root; so that the good departed away, and the evil abode still.
23 So the times passed away, and the years were brought to an end: then didst thou raise thee up a servant, called David:
24 Whom thou commandedst to build a city unto thy name, and to offer incense and oblations unto thee therein.
25 When this was done many years, then they that inhabited the city forsook thee,
26 And in all things did even as Adam and all his generations had done: for they also had a wicked heart:
27 And so thou gavest thy city over into the hands of thine enemies.
28 Are their deeds then any better that inhabit Babylon, that they should therefore have the dominion over Sion?
29 For when I came thither, and had seen impieties without number, then my soul saw many evildoers in this thirtieth year, so that my heart failed me.
30 For I have seen how thou sufferest them sinning, and hast spared wicked doers: and hast destroyed thy people, and hast preserved thine enemies, and hast not signified it.
31 I do not remember how this way may be left: Are they then of Babylon better than they of Sion?
32 Or is there any other people that knoweth thee beside Israel? or what generation hath so believed thy covenants as Jacob?
33 And yet their reward appeareth not, and their labour hath no fruit: for I have gone here and there through the heathen, and I see that they flow in wealth, and think not upon thy commandments.
34 Weigh thou therefore our wickedness now in the balance, and their’s also that dwell the world; and so shall thy name no where be found but in Israel.
35 Or when was it that they which dwell upon the earth have not sinned in thy sight? or what people have so kept thy commandments?
36 Thou shalt find that Israel by name hath kept thy precepts; but not the heathen.
2 Esdras Chapter 4:1-52
1 And the angel that was sent unto me, whose name was Uriel, gave me an answer,
2 And said, Thy heart hath gone to far in this world, and thinkest thou to comprehend the way of the most High?
3 Then said I, Yea, my lord. And he answered me, and said, I am sent to shew thee three ways, and to set forth three similitudes before thee:
4 Whereof if thou canst declare me one, I will shew thee also the way that thou desirest to see, and I shall shew thee from whence the wicked heart cometh.
5 And I said, Tell on, my lord. Then said he unto me, Go thy way, weigh me the weight of the fire, or measure me the blast of the wind, or call me again the day that is past.
6 Then answered I and said, What man is able to do that, that thou shouldest ask such things of me?
7 And he said unto me, If I should ask thee how great dwellings are in the midst of the sea, or how many springs are in the beginning of the deep, or how many springs are above the firmament, or which are the outgoings of paradise:
8 Peradventure thou wouldest say unto me, I never went down into the deep, nor as yet into hell, neither did I ever climb up into heaven.
9 Nevertheless now have I asked thee but only of the fire and wind, and of the day wherethrough thou hast passed, and of things from which thou canst not be separated, and yet canst thou give me no answer of them.
10 He said moreover unto me, Thine own things, and such as are grown up with thee, canst thou not know;
11 How should thy vessel then be able to comprehend the way of the Highest, and, the world being now outwardly corrupted to understand the corruption that is evident in my sight?
12 Then said I unto him, It were better that we were not at all, than that we should live still in wickedness, and to suffer, and not to know wherefore.
13 He answered me, and said, I went into a forest into a plain, and the trees took counsel,
14 And said, Come, let us go and make war against the sea that it may depart away before us, and that we may make us more woods.
15 The floods of the sea also in like manner took counsel, and said, Come, let us go up and subdue the woods of the plain, that there also we may make us another country.
16 The thought of the wood was in vain, for the fire came and consumed it.
17 The thought of the floods of the sea came likewise to nought, for the sand stood up and stopped them.
18 If thou wert judge now betwixt these two, whom wouldest thou begin to justify? or whom wouldest thou condemn?
19 I answered and said, Verily it is a foolish thought that they both have devised, for the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea also hath his place to bear his floods.
20 Then answered he me, and said, Thou hast given a right judgment, but why judgest thou not thyself also?
21 For like as the ground is given unto the wood, and the sea to his floods: even so they that dwell upon the earth may understand nothing but that which is upon the earth: and he that dwelleth above the heavens may only understand the things that are above the height of the heavens.
22 Then answered I and said, I beseech thee, O Lord, let me have understanding:
23 For it was not my mind to be curious of the high things, but of such as pass by us daily, namely, wherefore Israel is given up as a reproach to the heathen, and for what cause the people whom thou hast loved is given over unto ungodly nations, and why the law of our forefathers is brought to nought, and the written covenants come to none effect,
24 And we pass away out of the world as grasshoppers, and our life is astonishment and fear, and we are not worthy to obtain mercy.
25 What will he then do unto his name whereby we are called? of these things have I asked.
26 Then answered he me, and said, The more thou searchest, the more thou shalt marvel; for the world hasteth fast to pass away,
27 And cannot comprehend the things that are promised to the righteous in time to come: for this world is full of unrighteousness and infirmities.
28 But as concerning the things whereof thou askest me, I will tell thee; for the evil is sown, but the destruction thereof is not yet come.
29 If therefore that which is sown be not turned upside down, and if the place where the evil is sown pass not away, then cannot it come that is sown with good.
30 For the grain of evil seed hath been sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning, and how much ungodliness hath it brought up unto this time? and how much shall it yet bring forth until the time of threshing come?
31 Ponder now by thyself, how great fruit of wickedness the grain of evil seed hath brought forth.
32 And when the ears shall be cut down, which are without number, how great a floor shall they fill?
33 Then I answered and said, How, and when shall these things come to pass? wherefore are our years few and evil?
34 And he answered me, saying, Do not thou hasten above the most Highest: for thy haste is in vain to be above him, for thou hast much exceeded.
35 Did not the souls also of the righteous ask question of these things in their chambers, saying, How long shall I hope on this fashion? when cometh the fruit of the floor of our reward?
36 And unto these things Uriel the archangel gave them answer, and said, Even when the number of seeds is filled in you: for he hath weighed the world in the balance.
37 By measure hath he measured the times; and by number hath he numbered the times; and he doth not move nor stir them, until the said measure be fulfilled.
38 Then answered I and said, O Lord that bearest rule, even we all are full of impiety.
39 And for our sakes peradventure it is that the floors of the righteous are not filled, because of the sins of them that dwell upon the earth.
40 So he answered me, and said, Go thy way to a woman with child, and ask of her when she hath fulfilled her nine months, if her womb may keep the birth any longer within her.
41 Then said I, No, Lord, that can she not. And he said unto me, In the grave the chambers of souls are like the womb of a woman:
42 For like as a woman that travaileth maketh haste to escape the necessity of the travail: even so do these places haste to deliver those things that are committed unto them.
43 From the beginning, look, what thou desirest to see, it shall be shewed thee.
44 Then answered I and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, and if it be possible, and if I be meet therefore,
45 Shew me then whether there be more to come than is past, or more past than is to come.
46 What is past I know, but what is for to come I know not.
47 And he said unto me, Stand up upon the right side, and I shall expound the similitude unto thee.
48 So I stood, and saw, and, behold, an hot burning oven passed by before me: and it happened that when the flame was gone by I looked, and, behold, the smoke remained still.
49 After this there passed by before me a watery cloud, and sent down much rain with a storm; and when the stormy rain was past, the drops remained still.
50 Then said he unto me, Consider with thyself; as the rain is more than the drops, and as the fire is greater than the smoke; but the drops and the smoke remain behind: so the quantity which is past did more exceed.
51 Then I prayed, and said, May I live, thinkest thou, until that time? or what shall happen in those days?
52 He answered me, and said, As for the tokens whereof thou askest me, I may tell thee of them in part: but as touching thy life, I am not sent to shew thee; for I do not know it.
2 Esdras Chapter 5:1-56
1 Nevertheless as coming the tokens, behold, the days shall come, that they which dwell upon earth shall be taken in a great number, and the way of truth shall be hidden, and the land shall be barren of faith.
2 But iniquity shall be increased above that which now thou seest, or that thou hast heard long ago.
3 And the land, that thou seest now to have root, shalt thou see wasted suddenly.
4 But if the most High grant thee to live, thou shalt see after the third trumpet that the sun shall suddenly shine again in the night, and the moon thrice in the day:
5 And blood shall drop out of wood, and the stone shall give his voice, and the people shall be troubled:
6 And even he shall rule, whom they look not for that dwell upon the earth, and the fowls shall take their flight away together:
7 And the Sodomitish sea shall cast out fish, and make a noise in the night, which many have not known: but they shall all hear the voice thereof.
8 There shall be a confusion also in many places, and the fire shall be oft sent out again, and the wild beasts shall change their places, and menstruous women shall bring forth monsters:
9 And salt waters shall be found in the sweet, and all friends shall destroy one another; then shall wit hide itself, and understanding withdraw itself into his secret chamber,
10 And shall be sought of many, and yet not be found: then shall unrighteousness and incontinency be multiplied upon earth.
11 One land also shall ask another, and say, Is righteousness that maketh a man righteous gone through thee? And it shall say, No.
12 At the same time shall men hope, but nothing obtain: they shall labour, but their ways shall not prosper.
13 To shew thee such tokens I have leave; and if thou wilt pray again, and weep as now, and fast even days, thou shalt hear yet greater things.
14 Then I awaked, and an extreme fearfulness went through all my body, and my mind was troubled, so that it fainted.
15 So the angel that was come to talk with me held me, comforted me, and set me up upon my feet.
16 And in the second night it came to pass, that Salathiel the captain of the people came unto me, saying, Where hast thou been? and why is thy countenance so heavy?
17 Knowest thou not that Israel is committed unto thee in the land of their captivity?
18 Up then, and eat bread, and forsake us not, as the shepherd that leaveth his flock in the hands of cruel wolves.
19 Then said I unto him, Go thy ways from me, and come not nigh me. And he heard what I said, and went from me.
20 And so I fasted seven days, mourning and weeping, like as Uriel the angel commanded me.
21 And after seven days so it was, that the thoughts of my heart were very grievous unto me again,
22 And my soul recovered the spirit of understanding, and I began to talk with the most High again,
23 And said, O Lord that bearest rule, of every wood of the earth, and of all the trees thereof, thou hast chosen thee one only vine:
24 And of all lands of the whole world thou hast chosen thee one pit: and of all the flowers thereof one lily:
25 And of all the depths of the sea thou hast filled thee one river: and of all builded cities thou hast hallowed Sion unto thyself:
26 And of all the fowls that are created thou hast named thee one dove: and of all the cattle that are made thou hast provided thee one sheep:
27 And among all the multitudes of people thou hast gotten thee one people: and unto this people, whom thou lovedst, thou gavest a law that is approved of all.
28 And now, O Lord, why hast thou given this one people over unto many? and upon the one root hast thou prepared others, and why hast thou scattered thy only one people among many?
29 And they which did gainsay thy promises, and believed not thy covenants, have trodden them down.
30 If thou didst so much hate thy people, yet shouldest thou punish them with thine own hands.
31 Now when I had spoken these words, the angel that came to me the night afore was sent unto me,
32 And said unto me, Hear me, and I will instruct thee; hearken to the thing that I say, and I shall tell thee more.
33 And I said, Speak on, my Lord. Then said he unto me, Thou art sore troubled in mind for Israel’s sake: lovest thou that people better than he that made them?
34 And I said, No, Lord: but of very grief have I spoken: for my reins pain me every hour, while I labour to comprehend the way of the most High, and to seek out part of his judgment.
35 And he said unto me, Thou canst not. And I said, Wherefore, Lord? whereunto was I born then? or why was not my mother’s womb then my grave, that I might not have seen the travail of Jacob, and the wearisome toil of the stock of Israel?
36 And he said unto me, Number me the things that are not yet come, gather me together the dross that are scattered abroad, make me the flowers green again that are withered,
37 Open me the places that are closed, and bring me forth the winds that in them are shut up, shew me the image of a voice: and then I will declare to thee the thing that thou labourest to know.
38 And I said, O Lord that bearest rule, who may know these things, but he that hath not his dwelling with men?
39 As for me, I am unwise: how may I then speak of these things whereof thou askest me?
40 Then said he unto me, Like as thou canst do none of these things that I have spoken of, even so canst thou not find out my judgment, or in the end the love that I have promised unto my people.
41 And I said, Behold, O Lord, yet art thou nigh unto them that be reserved till the end: and what shall they do that have been before me, or we that be now, or they that shall come after us?
42 And he said unto me, I will liken my judgment unto a ring: like as there is no slackness of the last, even so there is no swiftness of the first.
43 So I answered and said, Couldest thou not make those that have been made, and be now, and that are for to come, at once; that thou mightest shew thy judgment the sooner?
44 Then answered he me, and said, The creature may not haste above the maker; neither may the world hold them at once that shall be created therein.
45 And I said, As thou hast said unto thy servant, that thou, which givest life to all, hast given life at once to the creature that thou hast created, and the creature bare it: even so it might now also bear them that now be present at once.
46 And he said unto me, Ask the womb of a woman, and say unto her, If thou bringest forth children, why dost thou it not together, but one after another? pray her therefore to bring forth ten children at once.
47 And I said, She cannot: but must do it by distance of time.
48 Then said he unto me, Even so have I given the womb of the earth to those that be sown in it in their times.
49 For like as a young child may not bring forth the things that belong to the aged, even so have I disposed the world which I created.
50 And I asked, and said, Seeing thou hast now given me the way, I will proceed to speak before thee: for our mother, of whom thou hast told me that she is young, draweth now nigh unto age.
51 He answered me, and said, Ask a woman that beareth children, and she shall tell thee.
52 Say unto her, Wherefore are unto they whom thou hast now brought forth like those that were before, but less of stature?
53 And she shall answer thee, They that be born in the the strength of youth are of one fashion, and they that are born in the time of age, when the womb faileth, are otherwise.
54 Consider thou therefore also, how that ye are less of stature than those that were before you.
55 And so are they that come after you less than ye, as the creatures which now begin to be old, and have passed over the strength of youth.
56 Then said I, Lord, I beseech thee, if I have found favour in thy sight, shew thy servant by whom thou visitest thy creature.
2 Esdras Chapter 6:1-59
1 And he said unto me, In the beginning, when the earth was made, before the borders of the world stood, or ever the winds blew,
2 Before it thundered and lightened, or ever the foundations of paradise were laid,
3 Before the fair flowers were seen, or ever the moveable powers were established, before the innumerable multitude of angels were gathered together,
4 Or ever the heights of the air were lifted up, before the measures of the firmament were named, or ever the chimneys in Sion were hot,
5 And ere the present years were sought out, and or ever the inventions of them that now sin were turned, before they were sealed that have gathered faith for a treasure:
6 Then did I consider these things, and they all were made through me alone, and through none other: by me also they shall be ended, and by none other.
7 Then answered I and said, What shall be the parting asunder of the times? or when shall be the end of the first, and the beginning of it that followeth?
8 And he said unto me, From Abraham unto Isaac, when Jacob and Esau were born of him, Jacob’s hand held first the heel of Esau.
9 For Esau is the end of the world, and Jacob is the beginning of it that followeth.
10 The hand of man is betwixt the heel and the hand: other question, Esdras, ask thou not.
11 I answered then and said, O Lord that bearest rule, if I have found favour in thy sight,
12 I beseech thee, shew thy servant the end of thy tokens, whereof thou shewedst me part the last night.
13 So he answered and said unto me, Stand up upon thy feet, and hear a mighty sounding voice.
14 And it shall be as it were a great motion; but the place where thou standest shall not be moved.
15 And therefore when it speaketh be not afraid: for the word is of the end, and the foundation of the earth is understood.
16 And why? because the speech of these things trembleth and is moved: for it knoweth that the end of these things must be changed.
17 And it happened, that when I had heard it I stood up upon my feet, and hearkened, and, behold, there was a voice that spake, and the sound of it was like the sound of many waters.
18 And it said, Behold, the days come, that I will begin to draw nigh, and to visit them that dwell upon the earth,
19 And will begin to make inquisition of them, what they be that have hurt unjustly with their unrighteousness, and when the affliction of Sion shall be fulfilled;
20 And when the world, that shall begin to vanish away, shall be finished, then will I shew these tokens: the books shall be opened before the firmament, and they shall see all together:
21 And the children of a year old shall speak with their voices, the women with child shall bring forth untimely children of three or four months old, and they shall live, and be raised up.
22 And suddenly shall the sown places appear unsown, the full storehouses shall suddenly be found empty:
23 And that trumpet shall give a sound, which when every man heareth, they shall be suddenly afraid.
24 At that time shall friends fight one against another like enemies, and the earth shall stand in fear with those that dwell therein, the springs of the fountains shall stand still, and in three hours they shall not run.
25 Whosoever remaineth from all these that I have told thee shall escape, and see my salvation, and the end of your world.
26 And the men that are received shall see it, who have not tasted death from their birth: and the heart of the inhabitants shall be changed, and turned into another meaning.
27 For evil shall be put out, and deceit shall be quenched.
28 As for faith, it shall flourish, corruption shall be overcome, and the truth, which hath been so long without fruit, shall be declared.
29 And when he talked with me, behold, I looked by little and little upon him before whom I stood.
30 And these words said he unto me; I am come to shew thee the time of the night to come.
31 If thou wilt pray yet more, and fast seven days again, I shall tell thee greater things by day than I have heard.
32 For thy voice is heard before the most High: for the Mighty hath seen thy righteous dealing, he hath seen also thy chastity, which thou hast had ever since thy youth.
33 And therefore hath he sent me to shew thee all these things, and to say unto thee, Be of good comfort and fear not
34 And hasten not with the times that are past, to think vain things, that thou mayest not hasten from the latter times.
35 And it came to pass after this, that I wept again, and fasted seven days in like manner, that I might fulfil the three weeks which he told me.
36 And in the eighth night was my heart vexed within me again, and I began to speak before the most High.
37 For my spirit was greatly set on fire, and my soul was in distress.
38 And I said, O Lord, thou spakest from the beginning of the creation, even the first day, and saidst thus; Let heaven and earth be made; and thy word was a perfect work.
39 And then was the spirit, and darkness and silence were on every side; the sound of man’s voice was not yet formed.
40 Then commandedst thou a fair light to come forth of thy treasures, that thy work might appear.
41 Upon the second day thou madest the spirit of the firmament, and commandedst it to part asunder, and to make a division betwixt the waters, that the one part might go up, and the other remain beneath.
42 Upon the third day thou didst command that the waters should be gathered in the seventh part of the earth: six pats hast thou dried up, and kept them, to the intent that of these some being planted of God and tilled might serve thee.
43 For as soon as thy word went forth the work was made.
44 For immediately there was great and innumerable fruit, and many and divers pleasures for the taste, and flowers of unchangeable colour, and odours of wonderful smell: and this was done the third day.
45 Upon the fourth day thou commandedst that the sun should shine, and the moon give her light, and the stars should be in order:
46 And gavest them a charge to do service unto man, that was to be made.
47 Upon the fifth day thou saidst unto the seventh part, where the waters were gathered that it should bring forth living creatures, fowls and fishes: and so it came to pass.
48 For the dumb water and without life brought forth living things at the commandment of God, that all people might praise thy wondrous works.
49 Then didst thou ordain two living creatures, the one thou calledst Enoch, and the other Leviathan;
50 And didst separate the one from the other: for the seventh part, namely, where the water was gathered together, might not hold them both.
51 Unto Enoch thou gavest one part, which was dried up the third day, that he should dwell in the same part, wherein are a thousand hills:
52 But unto Leviathan thou gavest the seventh part, namely, the moist; and hast kept him to be devoured of whom thou wilt, and when.
53 Upon the sixth day thou gavest commandment unto the earth, that before thee it should bring forth beasts, cattle, and creeping things:
54 And after these, Adam also, whom thou madest lord of all thy creatures: of him come we all, and the people also whom thou hast chosen.
55 All this have I spoken before thee, O Lord, because thou madest the world for our sakes
56 As for the other people, which also come of Adam, thou hast said that they are nothing, but be like unto spittle: and hast likened the abundance of them unto a drop that falleth from a vessel.
57 And now, O Lord, behold, these heathen, which have ever been reputed as nothing, have begun to be lords over us, and to devour us.
58 But we thy people, whom thou hast called thy firstborn, thy only begotten, and thy fervent lover, are given into their hands.
59 If the world now be made for our sakes, why do we not possess an inheritance with the world? how long shall this endure?
2 Esdras Chapter 7:1-70
1 And when I had made an end of speaking these words, there was sent unto me the angel which had been sent unto me the nights afore:
2 And he said unto me, Up, Esdras, and hear the words that I am come to tell thee.
3 And I said, Speak on, my God. Then said he unto me, The sea is set in a wide place, that it might be deep and great.
4 But put the case the entrance were narrow, and like a river;
5 Who then could go into the sea to look upon it, and to rule it? if he went not through the narrow, how could he come into the broad?
6 There is also another thing; A city is builded, and set upon a broad field, and is full of all good things:
7 The entrance thereof is narrow, and is set in a dangerous place to fall, like as if there were a fire on the right hand, and on the left a deep water:
8 And one only path between them both, even between the fire and the water, so small that there could but one man go there at once.
9 If this city now were given unto a man for an inheritance, if he never shall pass the danger set before it, how shall he receive this inheritance?
10 And I said, It is so, Lord. Then said he unto me, Even so also is Israel’s portion.
11 Because for their sakes I made the world: and when Adam transgressed my statutes, then was decreed that now is done.
12 Then were the entrances of this world made narrow, full of sorrow and travail: they are but few and evil, full of perils,: and very painful.
13 For the entrances of the elder world were wide and sure, and brought immortal fruit.
14 If then they that live labour not to enter these strait and vain things, they can never receive those that are laid up for them.
15 Now therefore why disquietest thou thyself, seeing thou art but a corruptible man? and why art thou moved, whereas thou art but mortal?
16 Why hast thou not considered in thy mind this thing that is to come, rather than that which is present?
17 Then answered I and said, O Lord that bearest rule, thou hast ordained in thy law, that the righteous should inherit these things, but that the ungodly should perish.
18 Nevertheless the righteous shall suffer strait things, and hope for wide: for they that have done wickedly have suffered the strait things, and yet shall not see the wide.
19 And he said unto me. There is no judge above God, and none that hath understanding above the Highest.
20 For there be many that perish in this life, because they despise the law of God that is set before them.
21 For God hath given strait commandment to such as came, what they should do to live, even as they came, and what they should observe to avoid punishment.
22 Nevertheless they were not obedient unto him; but spake against him, and imagined vain things;
23 And deceived themselves by their wicked deeds; and said of the most High, that he is not; and knew not his ways:
24 But his law have they despised, and denied his covenants; in his statutes have they not been faithful, and have not performed his works.
25 And therefore, Esdras, for the empty are empty things, and for the full are the full things.
26 Behold, the time shall come, that these tokens which I have told thee shall come to pass, and the bride shall appear, and she coming forth shall be seen, that now is withdrawn from the earth.
27 And whosoever is delivered from the foresaid evils shall see my wonders.
28 For my son Jesus shall be revealed with those that be with him, and they that remain shall rejoice within four hundred years.
29 After these years shall my son Christ die, and all men that have life.
30 And the world shall be turned into the old silence seven days, like as in the former judgments: so that no man shall remain.
31 And after seven days the world, that yet awaketh not, shall be raised up, and that shall die that is corrupt
32 And the earth shall restore those that are asleep in her, and so shall the dust those that dwell in silence, and the secret places shall deliver those souls that were committed unto them.
33 And the most High shall appear upon the seat of judgment, and misery shall pass away, and the long suffering shall have an end:
34 But judgment only shall remain, truth shall stand, and faith shall wax strong:
35 And the work shall follow, and the reward shall be shewed, and the good deeds shall be of force, and wicked deeds shall bear no rule.
36 Then said I, Abraham prayed first for the Sodomites, and Moses for the fathers that sinned in the wilderness:
37 And Jesus after him for Israel in the time of Achan:
38 And Samuel and David for the destruction: and Solomon for them that should come to the sanctuary:
39 And Helias for those that received rain; and for the dead, that he might live:
40 And Ezechias for the people in the time of Sennacherib: and many for many.
41 Even so now, seeing corruption is grown up, and wickedness increased, and the righteous have prayed for the ungodly: wherefore shall it not be so now also?
42 He answered me, and said, This present life is not the end where much glory doth abide; therefore have they prayed for the weak.
43 But the day of doom shall be the end of this time, and the beginning of the immortality for to come, wherein corruption is past,
44 Intemperance is at an end, infidelity is cut off, righteousness is grown, and truth is sprung up.
45 Then shall no man be able to save him that is destroyed, nor to oppress him that hath gotten the victory.
46 I answered then and said, This is my first and last saying, that it had been better not to have given the earth unto Adam: or else, when it was given him, to have restrained him from sinning.
47 For what profit is it for men now in this present time to live in heaviness, and after death to look for punishment?
48 O thou Adam, what hast thou done? for though it was thou that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee.
49 For what profit is it unto us, if there be promised us an immortal time, whereas we have done the works that bring death?
50 And that there is promised us an everlasting hope, whereas ourselves being most wicked are made vain?
51 And that there are laid up for us dwellings of health and safety, whereas we have lived wickedly?
52 And that the glory of the most High is kept to defend them which have led a wary life, whereas we have walked in the most wicked ways of all?
53 And that there should be shewed a paradise, whose fruit endureth for ever, wherein is security and medicine, since we shall not enter into it?
54 (For we have walked in unpleasant places.)
55 And that the faces of them which have used abstinence shall shine above the stars, whereas our faces shall be blacker than darkness?
56 For while we lived and committed iniquity, we considered not that we should begin to suffer for it after death.
57 Then answered he me, and said, This is the condition of the battle, which man that is born upon the earth shall fight;
58 That, if he be overcome, he shall suffer as thou hast said: but if he get the victory, he shall receive the thing that I say.
59 For this is the life whereof Moses spake unto the people while he lived, saying, Choose thee life, that thou mayest live.
60 Nevertheless they believed not him, nor yet the prophets after him, no nor me which have spoken unto them,
61 That there should not be such heaviness in their destruction, as shall be joy over them that are persuaded to salvation.
62 I answered then, and said, I know, Lord, that the most High is called merciful, in that he hath mercy upon them which are not yet come into the world,
63 And upon those also that turn to his law;
64 And that he is patient, and long suffereth those that have sinned, as his creatures;
65 And that he is bountiful, for he is ready to give where it needeth;
66 And that he is of great mercy, for he multiplieth more and more mercies to them that are present, and that are past, and also to them which are to come.
67 For if he shall not multiply his mercies, the world would not continue with them that inherit therein.
68 And he pardoneth; for if he did not so of his goodness, that they which have committed iniquities might be eased of them, the ten thousandth part of men should not remain living.
69 And being judge, if he should not forgive them that are cured with his word, and put out the multitude of contentions,
70 There should be very few left peradventure in an innumerable multitude.
2 Esdras Chapter 8:1-63
1 And he answered me, saying, The most High hath made this world for many, but the world to come for few.
2 I will tell thee a similitude, Esdras; As when thou askest the earth, it shall say unto thee, that it giveth much mould whereof earthen vessels are made, but little dust that gold cometh of: even so is the course of this present world.
3 There be many created, but few shall be saved.
4 So answered I and said, Swallow then down, O my soul, understanding, and devour wisdom.
5 For thou hast agreed to give ear, and art willing to prophesy: for thou hast no longer space than only to live.
6 O Lord, if thou suffer not thy servant, that we may pray before thee, and thou give us seed unto our heart, and culture to our understanding, that there may come fruit of it; how shall each man live that is corrupt, who beareth the place of a man?
7 For thou art alone, and we all one workmanship of thine hands, like as thou hast said.
8 For when the body is fashioned now in the mother’s womb, and thou givest it members, thy creature is preserved in fire and water, and nine months doth thy workmanship endure thy creature which is created in her.
9 But that which keepeth and is kept shall both be preserved: and when the time cometh, the womb preserved delivereth up the things that grew in it.
10 For thou hast commanded out of the parts of the body, that is to say, out of the breasts, milk to be given, which is the fruit of the breasts,
11 That the thing which is fashioned may be nourished for a time, till thou disposest it to thy mercy.
12 Thou broughtest it up with thy righteousness, and nurturedst it in thy law, and reformedst it with thy judgment.
13 And thou shalt mortify it as thy creature, and quicken it as thy work.
14 If therefore thou shalt destroy him which with so great labour was fashioned, it is an easy thing to be ordained by thy commandment, that the thing which was made might be preserved.
15 Now therefore, Lord, I will speak; touching man in general, thou knowest best; but touching thy people, for whose sake I am sorry;
16 And for thine inheritance, for whose cause I mourn; and for Israel, for whom I am heavy; and for Jacob, for whose sake I am troubled;
17 Therefore will I begin to pray before thee for myself and for them: for I see the falls of us that dwell in the land.
18 But I have heard the swiftness of the judge which is to come.
19 Therefore hear my voice, and understand my words, and I shall speak before thee. This is the beginning of the words of Esdras, before he was taken up: and I said,
20 O Lord, thou that dwellest in everlastingness which beholdest from above things in the heaven and in the air;
21 Whose throne is inestimable; whose glory may not be comprehended; before whom the hosts of angels stand with trembling,
22 Whose service is conversant in wind and fire; whose word is true, and sayings constant; whose commandment is strong, and ordinance fearful;
23 Whose look drieth up the depths, and indignation maketh the mountains to melt away; which the truth witnesseth:
24 O hear the prayer of thy servant, and give ear to the petition of thy creature.
25 For while I live I will speak, and so long as I have understanding I will answer.
26 O look not upon the sins of thy people; but on them which serve thee in truth.
27 Regard not the wicked inventions of the heathen, but the desire of those that keep thy testimonies in afflictions.
28 Think not upon those that have walked feignedly before thee: but remember them, which according to thy will have known thy fear.
29 Let it not be thy will to destroy them which have lived like beasts; but to look upon them that have clearly taught thy law.
30 Take thou no indignation at them which are deemed worse than beasts; but love them that always put their trust in thy righteousness and glory.
31 For we and our fathers do languish of such diseases: but because of us sinners thou shalt be called merciful.
32 For if thou hast a desire to have mercy upon us, thou shalt be called merciful, to us namely, that have no works of righteousness.
33 For the just, which have many good works laid up with thee, shall out of their own deeds receive reward.
34 For what is man, that thou shouldest take displeasure at him? or what is a corruptible generation, that thou shouldest be so bitter toward it?
35 For in truth them is no man among them that be born, but he hath dealt wickedly; and among the faithful there is none which hath not done amiss.
36 For in this, O Lord, thy righteousness and thy goodness shall be declared, if thou be merciful unto them which have not the confidence of good works.
37 Then answered he me, and said, Some things hast thou spoken aright, and according unto thy words it shall be.
38 For indeed I will not think on the disposition of them which have sinned before death, before judgment, before destruction:
39 But I will rejoice over the disposition of the righteous, and I will remember also their pilgrimage, and the salvation, and the reward, that they shall have.
40 Like as I have spoken now, so shall it come to pass.
41 For as the husbandman soweth much seed upon the ground, and planteth many trees, and yet the thing that is sown good in his season cometh not up, neither doth all that is planted take root: even so is it of them that are sown in the world; they shall not all be saved.
42 I answered then and said, If I have found grace, let me speak.
43 Like as the husbandman’s seed perisheth, if it come not up, and receive not thy rain in due season; or if there come too much rain, and corrupt it:
44 Even so perisheth man also, which is formed with thy hands, and is called thine own image, because thou art like unto him, for whose sake thou hast made all things, and likened him unto the husbandman’s seed.
45 Be not wroth with us but spare thy people, and have mercy upon thine own inheritance: for thou art merciful unto thy creature.
46 Then answered he me, and said, Things present are for the present, and things to cometh for such as be to come.
47 For thou comest far short that thou shouldest be able to love my creature more than I: but I have ofttimes drawn nigh unto thee, and unto it, but never to the unrighteous.
48 In this also thou art marvellous before the most High:
49 In that thou hast humbled thyself, as it becometh thee, and hast not judged thyself worthy to be much glorified among the righteous.
50 For many great miseries shall be done to them that in the latter time shall dwell in the world, because they have walked in great pride.
51 But understand thou for thyself, and seek out the glory for such as be like thee.
52 For unto you is paradise opened, the tree of life is planted, the time to come is prepared, plenteousness is made ready, a city is builded, and rest is allowed, yea, perfect goodness and wisdom.
53 The root of evil is sealed up from you, weakness and the moth is hid from you, and corruption is fled into hell to be forgotten:
54 Sorrows are passed, and in the end is shewed the treasure of immortality.
55 And therefore ask thou no more questions concerning the multitude of them that perish.
56 For when they had taken liberty, they despised the most High, thought scorn of his law, and forsook his ways.
57 Moreover they have trodden down his righteous,
58 And said in their heart, that there is no God; yea, and that knowing they must die.
59 For as the things aforesaid shalt receive you, so thirst and pain are prepared for them: for it was not his will that men should come to nought:
60 But they which be created have defiled the name of him that made them, and were unthankful unto him which prepared life for them.
61 And therefore is my judgment now at hand.
62 These things have I not shewed unto all men, but unto thee, and a few like thee. Then answered I and said,
63 Behold, O Lord, now hast thou shewed me the multitude of the wonders, which thou wilt begin to do in the last times: but at what time, thou hast not shewed me.
2 Esdras Chapter 9:1-47
1 He answered me then, and said, Measure thou the time diligently in itself: and when thou seest part of the signs past, which I have told thee before,
2 Then shalt thou understand, that it is the very same time, wherein the Highest will begin to visit the world which he made.
3 Therefore when there shall be seen earthquakes and uproars of the people in the world:
4 Then shalt thou well understand, that the most High spake of those things from the days that were before thee, even from the beginning.
5 For like as all that is made in the world hath a beginning and an end, and the end is manifest:
6 Even so the times also of the Highest have plain beginnings in wonder and powerful works, and endings in effects and signs.
7 And every one that shall be saved, and shall be able to escape by his works, and by faith, whereby ye have believed,
8 Shall be preserved from the said perils, and shall see my salvation in my land, and within my borders: for I have sanctified them for me from the beginning.
9 Then shall they be in pitiful case, which now have abused my ways: and they that have cast them away despitefully shall dwell in torments.
10 For such as in their life have received benefits, and have not known me;
11 And they that have loathed my law, while they had yet liberty, and, when as yet place of repentance was open unto them, understood not, but despised it;
12 The same must know it after death by pain.
13 And therefore be thou not curious how the ungodly shall be punished, and when: but enquire how the righteous shall be saved, whose the world is, and for whom the world is created.
14 Then answered I and said,
15 I have said before, and now do speak, and will speak it also hereafter, that there be many more of them which perish, than of them which shall be saved:
16 Like as a wave is greater than a drop.
17 And he answered me, saying, Like as the field is, so is also the seed; as the flowers be, such are the colours also; such as the workman is, such also is the work; and as the husbandman is himself, so is his husbandry also: for it was the time of the world.
18 And now when I prepared the world, which was not yet made, even for them to dwell in that now live, no man spake against me.
19 For then every one obeyed: but now the manners of them which are created in this world that is made are corrupted by a perpetual seed, and by a law which is unsearchable rid themselves.
20 So I considered the world, and, behold, there was peril because of the devices that were come into it.
21 And I saw, and spared it greatly, and have kept me a grape of the cluster, and a plant of a great people.
22 Let the multitude perish then, which was born in vain; and let my grape be kept, and my plant; for with great labour have I made it perfect.
23 Nevertheless, if thou wilt cease yet seven days more, (but thou shalt not fast in them,
24 But go into a field of flowers, where no house is builded, and eat only the flowers of the field; taste no flesh, drink no wine, but eat flowers only;)
25 And pray unto the Highest continually, then will I come and talk with thee.
26 So I went my way into the field which is called Ardath, like as he commanded me; and there I sat among the flowers, and did eat of the herbs of the field, and the meat of the same satisfied me.
27 After seven days I sat upon the grass, and my heart was vexed within me, like as before:
28 And I opened my mouth, and began to talk before the most High, and said,
29 O Lord, thou that shewest thyself unto us, thou wast shewed unto our fathers in the wilderness, in a place where no man treadeth, in a barren place, when they came out of Egypt.
30 And thou spakest saying, Hear me, O Israel; and mark my words, thou seed of Jacob.
31 For, behold, I sow my law in you, and it shall bring fruit in you, and ye shall be honoured in it for ever.
32 But our fathers, which received the law, kept it not, and observed not thy ordinances: and though the fruit of thy law did not perish, neither could it, for it was thine;
33 Yet they that received it perished, because they kept not the thing that was sown in them.
34 And, lo, it ls a custom, when the ground hath received seed, or the sea a ship, or any vessel meat or drink, that, that being perished wherein it was sown or cast into,
35 That thing also which was sown, or cast therein, or received, doth perish, and remaineth not with us: but with us it hath not happened so.
36 For we that have received the law perish by sin, and our heart also which received it
37 Notwithstanding the law perisheth not, but remaineth in his force.
38 And when I spake these things in my heart, I looked back with mine eyes, and upon the right side I saw a woman, and, behold, she mourned and wept with a loud voice, and was much grieved in heart, and her clothes were rent, and she had ashes upon her head.
39 Then let I my thoughts go that I was in, and turned me unto her,
40 And said unto her, Wherefore weepest thou? why art thou so grieved in thy mind?
41 And she said unto me, Sir, let me alone, that I may bewail myself, and add unto my sorrow, for I am sore vexed in my mind, and brought very low.
42 And I said unto her, What aileth thee? tell me.
43 She said unto me, I thy servant have been barren, and had no child, though I had an husband thirty years,
44 And those thirty years I did nothing else day and night, and every hour, but make my, prayer to the Highest.
45 After thirty years God heard me thine handmaid, looked upon my misery, considered my trouble, and gave me a son: and I was very glad of him, so was my husband also, and all my neighbours: and we gave great honour unto the Almighty.
46 And I nourished him with great travail.
47 So when he grew up, and came to the time that he should have a wife, I made a feast.
2 Esdras Chapter 10:1-59
1 And it so came to pass, that when my son was entered into his wedding chamber, he fell down, and died.
2 Then we all overthrew the lights, and all my neighbours rose up to comfort me: so I took my rest unto the second day at night.
3 And it came to pass, when they had all left off to comfort me, to the end I might be quiet; then rose I up by night and fled, and came hither into this field, as thou seest.
4 And I do now purpose not to return into the city, but here to stay, and neither to eat nor drink, but continually to mourn and to fast until I die.
5 Then left I the meditations wherein I was, and spake to her in anger, saying,
6 Thou foolish woman above all other, seest thou not our mourning, and what happeneth unto us?
7 How that Sion our mother is full of all heaviness, and much humbled, mourning very sore?
8 And now, seeing we all mourn and are sad, for we are all in heaviness, art thou grieved for one son?
9 For ask the earth, and she shall tell thee, that it is she which ought to mourn for the fall of so many that grow upon her.
10 For out of her came all at the first, and out of her shall all others come, and, behold, they walk almost all into destruction, and a multitude of them is utterly rooted out.
11 Who then should make more mourning than she, that hath lost so great a multitude; and not thou, which art sorry but for one?
12 But if thou sayest unto me, My lamentation is not like the earth’s, because I have lost the fruit of my womb, which I brought forth with pains, and bare with sorrows;
13 But the earth not so: for the multitude present in it according to the course of the earth is gone, as it came:
14 Then say I unto thee, Like as thou hast brought forth with labour; even so the earth also hath given her fruit, namely, man, ever since the beginning unto him that made her.
15 Now therefore keep thy sorrow to thyself, and bear with a good courage that which hath befallen thee.
16 For if thou shalt acknowledge the determination of God to be just, thou shalt both receive thy son in time, and shalt be commended among women.
17 Go thy way then into the city to thine husband.
18 And she said unto me, That will I not do: I will not go into the city, but here will I die.
19 So I proceeded to speak further unto her, and said,
20 Do not so, but be counselled. by me: for how many are the adversities of Sion? be comforted in regard of the sorrow of Jerusalem.
21 For thou seest that our sanctuary is laid waste, our altar broken down, our temple destroyed;
22 Our psaltery is laid on the ground, our song is put to silence, our rejoicing is at an end, the light of our candlestick is put out, the ark of our covenant is spoiled, our holy things are defiled, and the name that is called upon us is almost profaned: our children are put to shame, our priests are burnt, our Levites are gone into captivity, our virgins are defiled, and our wives ravished; our righteous men carried away, our little ones destroyed, our young men are brought in bondage, and our strong men are become weak;
23 And, which is the greatest of all, the seal of Sion hath now lost her honour; for she is delivered into the hands of them that hate us.
24 And therefore shake off thy great heaviness, and put away the multitude of sorrows, that the Mighty may be merciful unto thee again, and the Highest shall give thee rest and ease from thy labour.
25 And it came to pass while I was talking with her, behold, her face upon a sudden shined exceedingly, and her countenance glistered, so that I was afraid of her, and mused what it might be.
26 And, behold, suddenly she made a great cry very fearful: so that the earth shook at the noise of the woman.
27 And I looked, and, behold, the woman appeared unto me no more, but there was a city builded, and a large place shewed itself from the foundations: then was I afraid, and cried with a loud voice, and said,
28 Where is Uriel the angel, who came unto me at the first? for he hath caused me to fall into many trances, and mine end is turned into corruption, and my prayer to rebuke.
29 And as I was speaking these words behold, he came unto me, and looked upon me.
30 And, lo, I lay as one that had been dead, and mine understanding was taken from me: and he took me by the right hand, and comforted me, and set me upon my feet, and said unto me,
31 What aileth thee? and why art thou so disquieted? and why is thine understanding troubled, and the thoughts of thine heart?
32 And I said, Because thou hast forsaken me, and yet I did according to thy words, and I went into the field, and, lo, I have seen, and yet see, that I am not able to express.
33 And he said unto me, Stand up manfully, and I will advise thee.
34 Then said I, Speak on, my lord, in me; only forsake me not, lest I die frustrate of my hope.
35 For I have seen that I knew not, and hear that I do not know.
36 Or is my sense deceived, or my soul in a dream?
37 Now therefore I beseech thee that thou wilt shew thy servant of this vision.
38 He answered me then, and said, Hear me, and I shall inform thee, and tell thee wherefore thou art afraid: for the Highest will reveal many secret things unto thee.
39 He hath seen that thy way is right: for that thou sorrowest continually for thy people, and makest great lamentation for Sion.
40 This therefore is the meaning of the vision which thou lately sawest:
41 Thou sawest a woman mourning, and thou begannest to comfort her:
42 But now seest thou the likeness of the woman no more, but there appeared unto thee a city builded.
43 And whereas she told thee of the death of her son, this is the solution:
44 This woman, whom thou sawest is Sion: and whereas she said unto thee, even she whom thou seest as a city builded,
45 Whereas, I say, she said unto thee, that she hath been thirty years barren: those are the thirty years wherein there was no offering made in her.
46 But after thirty years Solomon builded the city and offered offerings: and then bare the barren a son.
47 And whereas she told thee that she nourished him with labour: that was the dwelling in Jerusalem.
48 But whereas she said unto thee, That my son coming into his marriage chamber happened to have a fail, and died: this was the destruction that came to Jerusalem.
49 And, behold, thou sawest her likeness, and because she mourned for her son, thou begannest to comfort her: and of these things which have chanced, these are to be opened unto thee.
50 For now the most High seeth that thou art grieved unfeignedly, and sufferest from thy whole heart for her, so hath he shewed thee the brightness of her glory, and the comeliness of her beauty:
51 And therefore I bade thee remain in the field where no house was builded:
52 For I knew that the Highest would shew this unto thee.
53 Therefore I commanded thee to go into the field, where no foundation of any building was.
54 For in the place wherein the Highest beginneth to shew his city, there can no man’s building be able to stand.
55 And therefore fear not, let not thine heart be affrighted, but go thy way in, and see the beauty and greatness of the building, as much as thine eyes be able to see:
56 And then shalt thou hear as much as thine ears may comprehend.
57 For thou art blessed above many other, and art called with the Highest; and so are but few.
58 But to morrow at night thou shalt remain here;
59 And so shall the Highest shew thee visions of the high things, which the most High will do unto them that dwell upon the earth in the last days. So I slept that night and another, like as he commanded me.
2 Esdras Chapter 11:1-46
1 Then saw I a dream, and, behold, there came up from the sea an eagle, which had twelve feathered wings, and three heads.
2 And I saw, and, behold, she spread her wings over all the earth, and all the winds of the air blew on her, and were gathered together.
3 And I beheld, and out of her feathers there grew other contrary feathers; and they became little feathers and small.
4 But her heads were at rest: the head in the midst was greater than the other, yet rested it with the residue.
5 Moreover I beheld, and, lo, the eagle flew with her feathers, and reigned upon earth, and over them that dwelt therein.
6 And I saw that all things under heaven were subject unto her, and no man spake against her, no, not one creature upon earth.
7 And I beheld, and, lo, the eagle rose upon her talons, and spake to her feathers, saying,
8 Watch not all at once: sleep every one in his own place, and watch by course:
9 But let the heads be preserved for the last.
10 And I beheld, and, lo, the voice went not out of her heads, but from the midst of her body.
11 And I numbered her contrary feathers, and, behold, there were eight of them.
12 And I looked, and, behold, on the right side there arose one feather, and reigned over all the earth;
13 And so it was, that when it reigned, the end of it came, and the place thereof appeared no more: so the next following stood up. and reigned, and had a great time;
14 And it happened, that when it reigned, the end of it came also, like as the first, so that it appeared no more.
15 Then came there a voice unto it, and said,
16 Hear thou that hast borne rule over the earth so long: this I say unto thee, before thou beginnest to appear no more,
17 There shall none after thee attain unto thy time, neither unto the half thereof.
18 Then arose the third, and reigned as the other before, and appeared no more also.
19 So went it with all the residue one after another, as that every one reigned, and then appeared no more.
20 Then I beheld, and, lo, in process of time the feathers that followed stood up upon the right side, that they might rule also; and some of them ruled, but within a while they appeared no more:
21 For some of them were set up, but ruled not.
22 After this I looked, and, behold, the twelve feathers appeared no more, nor the two little feathers:
23 And there was no more upon the eagle’s body, but three heads that rested, and six little wings.
24 Then saw I also that two little feathers divided themselves from the six, and remained under the head that was upon the right side: for the four continued in their place.
25 And I beheld, and, lo, the feathers that were under the wing thought to set up themselves and to have the rule.
26 And I beheld, and, lo, there was one set up, but shortly it appeared no more.
27 And the second was sooner away than the first.
28 And I beheld, and, lo, the two that remained thought also in themselves to reign:
29 And when they so thought, behold, there awaked one of the heads that were at rest, namely, it that was in the midst; for that was greater than the two other heads.
30 And then I saw that the two other heads were joined with it.
31 And, behold, the head was turned with them that were with it, and did eat up the two feathers under the wing that would have reigned.
32 But this head put the whole earth in fear, and bare rule in it over all those that dwelt upon the earth with much oppression; and it had the governance of the world more than all the wings that had been.
33 And after this I beheld, and, lo, the head that was in the midst suddenly appeared no more, like as the wings.
34 But there remained the two heads, which also in like sort ruled upon the earth, and over those that dwelt therein.
35 And I beheld, and, lo, the head upon the right side devoured it that was upon the left side.
36 Then I head a voice, which said unto me, Look before thee, and consider the thing that thou seest.
37 And I beheld, and lo, as it were a roaring lion chased out of the wood: and I saw that he sent out a man’s voice unto the eagle, and said,
38 Hear thou, I will talk with thee, and the Highest shall say unto thee,
39 Art not thou it that remainest of the four beasts, whom I made to reign in my world, that the end of their times might come through them?
40 And the fourth came, and overcame all the beasts that were past, and had power over the world with great fearfulness, and over the whole compass of the earth with much wicked oppression; and so long time dwelt he upon the earth with deceit.
41 For the earth hast thou not judged with truth.
42 For thou hast afflicted the meek, thou hast hurt the peaceable, thou hast loved liars, and destroyed the dwellings of them that brought forth fruit, and hast cast down the walls of such as did thee no harm.
43 Therefore is thy wrongful dealing come up unto the Highest, and thy pride unto the Mighty.
44 The Highest also hath looked upon the proud times, and, behold, they are ended, and his abominations are fulfilled.
45 And therefore appear no more, thou eagle, nor thy horrible wings, nor thy wicked feathers nor thy malicious heads, nor thy hurtful claws, nor all thy vain body:
46 That all the earth may be refreshed, and may return, being delivered from thy violence, and that she may hope for the judgment and mercy of him that made her.
2 Esdras Chapter 12:1-51
1 And it came to pass, whiles the lion spake these words unto the eagle, I saw,
2 And, behold, the head that remained and the four wings appeared no more, and the two went unto it and set themselves up to reign, and their kingdom was small, and fill of uproar.
3 And I saw, and, behold, they appeared no more, and the whole body of the eagle was burnt so that the earth was in great fear: then awaked I out of the trouble and trance of my mind, and from great fear, and said unto my spirit,
4 Lo, this hast thou done unto me, in that thou searchest out the ways of the Highest.
5 Lo, yet am I weary in my mind, and very weak in my spirit; and little strength is there in me, for the great fear wherewith I was afflicted this night.
6 Therefore will I now beseech the Highest, that he will comfort me unto the end.
7 And I said, Lord that bearest rule, if I have found grace before thy sight, and if I am justified with thee before many others, and if my prayer indeed be come up before thy face;
8 Comfort me then, and shew me thy servant the interpretation and plain difference of this fearful vision, that thou mayest perfectly comfort my soul.
9 For thou hast judged me worthy to shew me the last times.
10 And he said unto me, This is the interpretation of the vision:
11 The eagle, whom thou sawest come up from the sea, is the kingdom which was seen in the vision of thy brother Daniel.
12 But it was not expounded unto him, therefore now I declare it unto thee.
13 Behold, the days will come, that there shall rise up a kingdom upon earth, and it shall be feared above all the kingdoms that were before it.
14 In the same shall twelve kings reign, one after another:
15 Whereof the second shall begin to reign, and shall have more time than any of the twelve.
16 And this do the twelve wings signify, which thou sawest.
17 As for the voice which thou heardest speak, and that thou sawest not to go out from the heads but from the midst of the body thereof, this is the interpretation:
18 That after the time of that kingdom there shall arise great strivings, and it shall stand in peril of failing: nevertheless it shall not then fall, but shall be restored again to his beginning.
19 And whereas thou sawest the eight small under feathers sticking to her wings, this is the interpretation:
20 That in him there shall arise eight kings, whose times shall be but small, and their years swift.
21 And two of them shall perish, the middle time approaching: four shall be kept until their end begin to approach: but two shall be kept unto the end.
22 And whereas thou sawest three heads resting, this is the interpretation:
23 In his last days shall the most High raise up three kingdoms, and renew many things therein, and they shall have the dominion of the earth,
24 And of those that dwell therein, with much oppression, above all those that were before them: therefore are they called the heads of the eagle.
25 For these are they that shall accomplish his wickedness, and that shall finish his last end.
26 And whereas thou sawest that the great head appeared no more, it signifieth that one of them shall die upon his bed, and yet with pain.
27 For the two that remain shall be slain with the sword.
28 For the sword of the one shall devour the other: but at the last shall he fall through the sword himself.
29 And whereas thou sawest two feathers under the wings passing over the head that is on the right side;
30 It signifieth that these are they, whom the Highest hath kept unto their end: this is the small kingdom and full of trouble, as thou sawest.
31 And the lion, whom thou sawest rising up out of the wood, and roaring, and speaking to the eagle, and rebuking her for her unrighteousness with all the words which thou hast heard;
32 This is the anointed, which the Highest hath kept for them and for their wickedness unto the end: he shall reprove them, and shall upbraid them with their cruelty.
33 For he shall set them before him alive in judgment, and shall rebuke them, and correct them.
34 For the rest of my people shall he deliver with mercy, those that have been pressed upon my borders, and he shall make them joyful until the coming of the day of judgment, whereof I have spoken unto thee from the the beginning.
35 This is the dream that thou sawest, and these are the interpretations.
36 Thou only hast been meet to know this secret of the Highest.
37 Therefore write all these things that thou hast seen in a book, and hide them:
38 And teach them to the wise of the people, whose hearts thou knowest may comprehend and keep these secrets.
39 But wait thou here thyself yet seven days more, that it may be shewed thee, whatsoever it pleaseth the Highest to declare unto thee. And with that he went his way.
40 And it came to pass, when all the people saw that the seven days were past, and I not come again into the city, they gathered them all together, from the least unto the greatest, and came unto me, and said,
41 What have we offended thee? and what evil have we done against thee, that thou forsakest us, and sittest here in this place?
42 For of all the prophets thou only art left us, as a cluster of the vintage, and as a candle in a dark place, and as a haven or ship preserved from the tempest.
43 Are not the evils which are come to us sufficient?
44 If thou shalt forsake us, how much better had it been for us, if we also had been burned in the midst of Sion?
45 For we are not better than they that died there. And they wept with a loud voice. Then answered I them, and said,
46 Be of good comfort, O Israel; and be not heavy, thou house of Jacob:
47 For the Highest hath you in remembrance, and the Mighty hath not forgotten you in temptation.
48 As for me, I have not forsaken you, neither am I departed from you: but am come into this place, to pray for the desolation of Sion, and that I might seek mercy for the low estate of your sanctuary.
49 And now go your way home every man, and after these days will I come unto you.
50 So the people went their way into the city, like as I commanded them:
51 But I remained still in the field seven days, as the angel commanded me; and did eat only in those days of the flowers of the field, and had my meat of the herbs
2 Esdras Chapter 13:1-58
1 And it came to pass after seven days, I dreamed a dream by night:
2 And, lo, there arose a wind from the sea, that it moved all the waves thereof.
3 And I beheld, and, lo, that man waxed strong with the thousands of heaven: and when he turned his countenance to look, all the things trembled that were seen under him.
4 And whensoever the voice went out of his mouth, all they burned that heard his voice, like as the earth faileth when it feeleth the fire.
5 And after this I beheld, and, lo, there was gathered together a multitude of men, out of number, from the four winds of the heaven, to subdue the man that came out of the sea
6 But I beheld, and, lo, he had graved himself a great mountain, and flew up upon it.
7 But I would have seen the region or place whereout the hill was graven, and I could not.
8 And after this I beheld, and, lo, all they which were gathered together to subdue him were sore afraid, and yet durst fight.
9 And, lo, as he saw the violence of the multitude that came, he neither lifted up his hand, nor held sword, nor any instrument of war:
10 But only I saw that he sent out of his mouth as it had been a blast of fire, and out of his lips a flaming breath, and out of his tongue he cast out sparks and tempests.
11 And they were all mixed together; the blast of fire, the flaming breath, and the great tempest; and fell with violence upon the multitude which was prepared to fight, and burned them up every one, so that upon a sudden of an innumerable multitude nothing was to be perceived, but only dust and smell of smoke: when I saw this I was afraid.
12 Afterward saw I the same man come down from the mountain, and call unto him another peaceable Multitude.
13 And there came much people unto him, whereof some were glad, some were sorry, and some of them were bound, and other some brought of them that were offered: then was I sick through great fear, and I awaked, and said,
14 Thou hast shewed thy servant these wonders from the beginning, and hast counted me worthy that thou shouldest receive my prayer:
15 Shew me now yet the interpretation of this dream.
16 For as I conceive in mine understanding, woe unto them that shall be left in those days and much more woe unto them that are not left behind!
17 For they that were not left were in heaviness.
18 Now understand I the things that are laid up in the latter days, which shall happen unto them, and to those that are left behind.
19 Therefore are they come into great perils and many necessities, like as these dreams declare.
20 Yet is it easier for him that is in danger to come into these things, than to pass away as a cloud out of the world, and not to see the things that happen in the last days. And he answered unto me, and said,
21 The interpretation of the vision shall I shew thee, and I will open unto thee the thing that thou hast required.
22 Whereas thou hast spoken of them that are left behind, this is the interpretation:
23 He that shall endure the peril in that time hath kept himself: they that be fallen into danger are such as have works, and faith toward the Almighty.
24 Know this therefore, that they which be left behind are more blessed than they that be dead.
25 This is the meaning of the vision: Whereas thou sawest a man coming up from the midst of the sea:
26 The same is he whom God the Highest hath kept a great season, which by his own self shall deliver his creature: and he shall order them that are left behind.
27 And whereas thou sawest, that out of his mouth there came as a blast of wind, and fire, and storm;
28 And that he held neither sword, nor any instrument of war, but that the rushing in of him destroyed the whole multitude that came to subdue him; this is the interpretation:
29 Behold, the days come, when the most High will begin to deliver them that are upon the earth.
30 And he shall come to the astonishment of them that dwell on the earth.
31 And one shall undertake to fight against another, one city against another, one place against another, one people against another, and one realm against another.
32 And the time shall be when these things shall come to pass, and the signs shall happen which I shewed thee before, and then shall my Son be declared, whom thou sawest as a man ascending.
33 And when all the people hear his voice, every man shall in their own land leave the battle they have one against another.
34 And an innumerable multitude shall be gathered together, as thou sawest them, willing to come, and to overcome him by fighting.
35 But he shall stand upon the top of the mount Sion.
36 And Sion shall come, and shall be shewed to all men, being prepared and builded, like as thou sawest the hill graven without hands.
37 And this my Son shall rebuke the wicked inventions of those nations, which for their wicked life are fallen into the tempest;
38 And shall lay before them their evil thoughts, and the torments wherewith they shall begin to be tormented, which are like unto a flame: and he shall destroy them without labour by the law which is like unto me.
39 And whereas thou sawest that he gathered another peaceable multitude unto him;
40 Those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar the king of Assyria led away captive, and he carried them over the waters, and so came they into another land.
41 But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt,
42 That they might there keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land.
43 And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow places of the river.
44 For the most High then shewed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over.
45 For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half: and the same region is called Arsareth.
46 Then dwelt they there until the latter time; and now when they shall begin to come,
47 The Highest shall stay the springs of the stream again, that they may go through: therefore sawest thou the multitude with peace.
48 But those that be left behind of thy people are they that are found within my borders.
49 Now when he destroyeth the multitude of the nations that are gathered together, he shall defend his people that remain.
50 And then shall he shew them great wonders.
51 Then said I, O Lord that bearest rule, shew me this: Wherefore have I seen the man coming up from the midst of the sea?
52 And he said unto me, Like as thou canst neither seek out nor know the things that are in the deep of the sea: even so can no man upon earth see my Son, or those that be with him, but in the day time.
53 This is the interpretation of the dream which thou sawest, and whereby thou only art here lightened.
54 For thou hast forsaken thine own way, and applied thy diligence unto my law, and sought it.
55 Thy life hast thou ordered in wisdom, and hast called understanding thy mother.
56 And therefore have I shewed thee the treasures of the Highest: after other three days I will speak other things unto thee, and declare unto thee mighty and wondrous things.
57 Then went I forth into the field, giving praise and thanks greatly unto the most High because of his wonders which he did in time;
58 And because he governeth the same, and such things as fall in their seasons: and there I sat three days.
2 Esdras Chapter 14:1-48
1 And it came to pass upon the third day, I sat under an oak, and, behold, there came a voice out of a bush over against me, and said, Esdras, Esdras.
2 And I said, Here am I, Lord And I stood up upon my feet.
3 Then said he unto me, In the bush I did manifestly reveal myself unto Moses, and talked with him, when my people served in Egypt:
4 And I sent him and led my people out of Egypt, and brought him up to the mount of where I held him by me a long season,
5 And told him many wondrous things, and shewed him the secrets of the times, and the end; and commanded him, saying,
6 These words shalt thou declare, and these shalt thou hide.
7 And now I say unto thee,
8 That thou lay up in thy heart the signs that I have shewed, and the dreams that thou hast seen, and the interpretations which thou hast heard:
9 For thou shalt be taken away from all, and from henceforth thou shalt remain with my Son, and with such as be like thee, until the times be ended.
10 For the world hath lost his youth, and the times begin to wax old.
11 For the world is divided into twelve parts, and the ten parts of it are gone already, and half of a tenth part:
12 And there remaineth that which is after the half of the tenth part.
13 Now therefore set thine house in order, and reprove thy people, comfort such of them as be in trouble, and now renounce corruption,
14 Let go from thee mortal thoughts, cast away the burdens of man, put off now the weak nature,
15 And set aside the thoughts that are most heavy unto thee, and haste thee to flee from these times.
16 For yet greater evils than those which thou hast seen happen shall be done hereafter.
17 For look how much the world shall be weaker through age, so much the more shall evils increase upon them that dwell therein.
18 For the time is fled far away, and leasing is hard at hand: for now hasteth the vision to come, which thou hast seen.
19 Then answered I before thee, and said,
20 Behold, Lord, I will go, as thou hast commanded me, and reprove the people which are present: but they that shall be born afterward, who shall admonish them? thus the world is set in darkness, and they that dwell therein are without light.
21 For thy law is burnt, therefore no man knoweth the things that are done of thee, or the work that shall begin.
22 But if I have found grace before thee, send the Holy Ghost into me, and I shall write all that hath been done in the world since the beginning, which were written in thy law, that men may find thy path, and that they which will live in the latter days may live.
23 And he answered me, saying, Go thy way, gather the people together, and say unto them, that they seek thee not for forty days.
24 But look thou prepare thee many box trees, and take with thee Sarea, Dabria, Selemia, Ecanus, and Asiel, these five which are ready to write swiftly;
25 And come hither, and I shall light a candle of understanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out, till the things be performed which thou shalt begin to write.
26 And when thou hast done, some things shalt thou publish, and some things shalt thou shew secretly to the wise: to morrow this hour shalt thou begin to write.
27 Then went I forth, as he commanded, and gathered all the people together, and said,
28 Hear these words, O Israel.
29 Our fathers at the beginning were strangers in Egypt, from whence they were delivered:
30 And received the law of life, which they kept not, which ye also have transgressed after them.
31 Then was the land, even the land of Sion, parted among you by lot: but your fathers, and ye yourselves, have done unrighteousness, and have not kept the ways which the Highest commanded you.
32 And forasmuch as he is a righteous judge, he took from you in time the thing that he had given you.
33 And now are ye here, and your brethren among you.
34 Therefore if so be that ye will subdue your own understanding, and reform your hearts, ye shall be kept alive and after death ye shall obtain mercy.
35 For after death shall the judgment come, when we shall live again: and then shall the names of the righteous be manifest, and the works of the ungodly shall be declared.
36 Let no man therefore come unto me now, nor seek after me these forty days.
37 So I took the five men, as he commanded me, and we went into the field, and remained there.
38 And the next day, behold, a voice called me, saying, Esdras, open thy mouth, and drink that I give thee to drink.
39 Then opened I my mouth, and, behold, he reached me a full cup, which was full as it were with water, but the colour of it was like fire.
40 And I took it, and drank: and when I had drunk of it, my heart uttered understanding, and wisdom grew in my breast, for my spirit strengthened my memory:
41 And my mouth was opened, and shut no more.
42 The Highest gave understanding unto the five men, and they wrote the wonderful visions of the night that were told, which they knew not: and they sat forty days, and they wrote in the day, and at night they ate bread.
43 As for me. I spake in the day, and I held not my tongue by night.
44 In forty days they wrote two hundred and four books.
45 And it came to pass, when the forty days were filled, that the Highest spake, saying, The first that thou hast written publish openly, that the worthy and unworthy may read it:
46 But keep the seventy last, that thou mayest deliver them only to such as be wise among the people:
47 For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge.
48 And I did so.
2 Esdras Chapter 15:1-63
1 Behold, speak thou in the ears of my people the words of prophecy, which I will put in thy mouth, saith the Lord:
2 And cause them to be written in paper: for they are faithful and true.
3 Fear not the imaginations against thee, let not the incredulity of them trouble thee, that speak against thee.
4 For all the unfaithful shall die in their unfaithfulness.
5 Behold, saith the Lord, I will bring plagues upon the world; the sword, famine, death, and destruction.
6 For wickedness hath exceedingly polluted the whole earth, and their hurtful works are fulfilled.
7 Therefore saith the Lord,
8 I will hold my tongue no more as touching their wickedness, which they profanely commit, neither will I suffer them in those things, in which they wickedly exercise themselves: behold, the innocent and righteous blood crieth unto me, and the souls of the just complain continually.
9 And therefore, saith the Lord, I will surely avenge them, and receive unto me all the innocent blood from among them.
10 Behold, my people is led as a flock to the slaughter: I will not suffer them now to dwell in the land of Egypt:
11 But I will bring them with a mighty hand and a stretched out arm, and smite Egypt with plagues, as before, and will destroy all the land thereof.
12 Egypt shall mourn, and the foundation of it shall be smitten with the plague and punishment that God shall bring upon it.
13 They that till the ground shall mourn: for their seeds shall fail through the blasting and hail, and with a fearful constellation.
14 Woe to the world and them that dwell therein!
15 For the sword and their destruction draweth nigh, and one people shall stand up and fight against another, and swords in their hands.
16 For there shall be sedition among men, and invading one another; they shall not regard their kings nor princes, and the course of their actions shall stand in their power.
17 A man shall desire to go into a city, and shall not be able.
18 For because of their pride the cities shall be troubled, the houses shall be destroyed, and men shall be afraid.
19 A man shall have no pity upon his neighbour, but shall destroy their houses with the sword, and spoil their goods, because of the lack of bread, and for great tribulation.
20 Behold, saith God, I will call together all the kings of the earth to reverence me, which are from the rising of the sun, from the south, from the east, and Libanus; to turn themselves one against another, and repay the things that they have done to them.
21 Like as they do yet this day unto my chosen, so will I do also, and recompense in their bosom. Thus saith the Lord God;
22 My right hand shall not spare the sinners, and my sword shall not cease over them that shed innocent blood upon the earth.
23 The fire is gone forth from his wrath, and hath consumed the foundations of the earth, and the sinners, like the straw that is kindled.
24 Woe to them that sin, and keep not my commandments! saith the Lord.
25 I will not spare them: go your way, ye children, from the power, defile not my sanctuary.
26 For the Lord knoweth all them that sin against him, and therefore delivereth he them unto death and destruction.
27 For now are the plagues come upon the whole earth and ye shall remain in them: for God shall not deliver you, because ye have sinned against him.
28 Behold an horrible vision, and the appearance thereof from the east:
29 Where the nations of the dragons of Arabia shall come out with many chariots, and the multitude of them shall be carried as the wind upon earth, that all they which hear them may fear and tremble.
30 Also the Carmanians raging in wrath shall go forth as the wild boars of the wood, and with great power shall they come, and join battle with them, and shall waste a portion of the land of the Assyrians.
31 And then shall the dragons have the upper hand, remembering their nature; and if they shall turn themselves, conspiring together in great power to persecute them,
32 Then these shall be troubled bled, and keep silence through their power, and shall flee.
33 And from the land of the Assyrians shall the enemy besiege them, and consume some of them, and in their host shall be fear and dread, and strife among their kings.
34 Behold clouds from the east and from the north unto the south, and they are very horrible to look upon, full of wrath and storm.
35 They shall smite one upon another, and they shall smite down a great multitude of stars upon the earth, even their own star; and blood shall be from the sword unto the belly,
36 And dung of men unto the camel’s hough.
37 And there shall be great fearfulness and trembling upon earth: and they that see the wrath shall be afraid, and trembling shall come upon them.
38 And then shall there come great storms from the south, and from the north, and another part from the west.
39 And strong winds shall arise from the east, and shall open it; and the cloud which he raised up in wrath, and the star stirred to cause fear toward the east and west wind, shall be destroyed.
40 The great and mighty clouds shall be puffed up full of wrath, and the star, that they may make all the earth afraid, and them that dwell therein; and they shall pour out over every high and eminent place an horrible star,
41 Fire, and hail, and flying swords, and many waters, that all fields may be full, and all rivers, with the abundance of great waters.
42 And they shall break down the cities and walls, mountains and hills, trees of the wood, and grass of the meadows, and their corn.
43 And they shall go stedfastly unto Babylon, and make her afraid.
44 They shall come to her, and besiege her, the star and all wrath shall they pour out upon her: then shall the dust and smoke go up unto the heaven, and all they that be about her shall bewail her.
45 And they that remain under her shall do service unto them that have put her in fear.
46 And thou, Asia, that art partaker of the hope of Babylon, and art the glory of her person:
47 Woe be unto thee, thou wretch, because thou hast made thyself like unto her; and hast decked thy daughters in whoredom, that they might please and glory in thy lovers, which have always desired to commit whoredom with thee.
48 Thou hast followed her that is hated in all her works and inventions: therefore saith God,
49 I will send plagues upon thee; widowhood, poverty, famine, sword, and pestilence, to waste thy houses with destruction and death.
50 And the glory of thy Power shall be dried up as a flower, the heat shall arise that is sent over thee.
51 Thou shalt be weakened as a poor woman with stripes, and as one chastised with wounds, so that the mighty and lovers shall not be able to receive thee.
52 Would I with jealousy have so proceeded against thee, saith the Lord,
53 If thou hadst not always slain my chosen, exalting the stroke of thine hands, and saying over their dead, when thou wast drunken,
54 Set forth the beauty of thy countenance?
55 The reward of thy whoredom shall be in thy bosom, therefore shalt thou receive recompence.
56 Like as thou hast done unto my chosen, saith the Lord, even so shall God do unto thee, and shall deliver thee into mischief
57 Thy children shall die of hunger, and thou shalt fall through the sword: thy cities shall be broken down, and all thine shall perish with the sword in the field.
58 They that be in the mountains shall die of hunger, and eat their own flesh, and drink their own blood, for very hunger of bread, and thirst of water.
59 Thou as unhappy shalt come through the sea, and receive plagues again.
60 And in the passage they shall rush on the idle city, and shall destroy some portion of thy land, and consume part of thy glory, and shall return to Babylon that was destroyed.
61 And thou shalt be cast down by them as stubble, and they shall be unto thee as fire;
62 And shall consume thee, and thy cities, thy land, and thy mountains; all thy woods and thy fruitful trees shall they burn up with fire.
63 Thy children shall they carry away captive, and, look, what thou hast, they shall spoil it, and mar the beauty of thy face.
2 Esdras Chapter 16:1-78
1 Woe be unto thee, Babylon, and Asia! woe be unto thee, Egypt and Syria!
2 Gird up yourselves with cloths of sack and hair, bewail your children, and be sorry; for your destruction is at hand.
3 A sword is sent upon you, and who may turn it back?
4 A fire is sent among you, and who may quench it?
5 Plagues are sent unto you, and what is he that may drive them away?
6 May any man drive away an hungry lion in the wood? or may any one quench the fire in stubble, when it hath begun to burn?
7 May one turn again the arrow that is shot of a strong archer?
8 The mighty Lord sendeth the plagues and who is he that can drive them away?
9 A fire shall go forth from his wrath, and who is he that may quench it?
10 He shall cast lightnings, and who shall not fear? he shall thunder, and who shall not be afraid?
11 The Lord shall threaten, and who shall not be utterly beaten to powder at his presence?
12 The earth quaketh, and the foundations thereof; the sea ariseth up with waves from the deep, and the waves of it are troubled, and the fishes thereof also, before the Lord, and before the glory of his power:
13 For strong is his right hand that bendeth the bow, his arrows that he shooteth are sharp, and shall not miss, when they begin to be shot into the ends of the world.
14 Behold, the plagues are sent, and shall not return again, until they come upon the earth.
15 The fire is kindled, and shall not be put out, till it consume the foundation of the earth.
16 Like as an arrow which is shot of a mighty archer returneth not backward: even so the plagues that shall be sent upon earth shall not return again.
17 Woe is me! woe is me! who will deliver me in those days?
18 The beginning of sorrows and great mournings; the beginning of famine and great death; the beginning of wars, and the powers shall stand in fear; the beginning of evils! what shall I do when these evils shall come?
19 Behold, famine and plague, tribulation and anguish, are sent as scourges for amendment.
20 But for all these things they shall not turn from their wickedness, nor be always mindful of the scourges.
21 Behold, victuals shall be so good cheap upon earth, that they shall think themselves to be in good case, and even then shall evils grow upon earth, sword, famine, and great confusion.
22 For many of them that dwell upon earth shall perish of famine; and the other, that escape the hunger, shall the sword destroy.
23 And the dead shall be cast out as dung, and there shall be no man to comfort them: for the earth shall be wasted, and the cities shall be cast down.
24 There shall be no man left to till the earth, and to sow it
25 The trees shall give fruit, and who shall gather them?
26 The grapes shall ripen, and who shall tread them? for all places shall be desolate of men:
27 So that one man shall desire to see another, and to hear his voice.
28 For of a city there shall be ten left, and two of the field, which shall hide themselves in the thick groves, and in the clefts of the rocks.
29 As in an orchard of Olives upon every tree there are left three or four olives;
30 Or as when a vineyard is gathered, there are left some clusters of them that diligently seek through the vineyard:
31 Even so in those days there shall be three or four left by them that search their houses with the sword.
32 And the earth shall be laid waste, and the fields thereof shall wax old, and her ways and all her paths shall grow full of thorns, because no man shall travel therethrough.
33 The virgins shall mourn, having no bridegrooms; the women shall mourn, having no husbands; their daughters shall mourn, having no helpers.
34 In the wars shall their bridegrooms be destroyed, and their husbands shall perish of famine.
35 Hear now these things and understand them, ye servants of the Lord.
36 Behold, the word of the Lord, receive it: believe not the gods of whom the Lord spake.
37 Behold, the plagues draw nigh, and are not slack.
38 As when a woman with child in the ninth month bringeth forth her son, with two or three hours of her birth great pains compass her womb, which pains, when the child cometh forth, they slack not a moment:
39 Even so shall not the plagues be slack to come upon the earth, and the world shall mourn, and sorrows shall come upon it on every side.
40 O my people, hear my word: make you ready to thy battle, and in those evils be even as pilgrims upon the earth.
41 He that selleth, let him be as he that fleeth away: and he that buyeth, as one that will lose:
42 He that occupieth merchandise, as he that hath no profit by it: and he that buildeth, as he that shall not dwell therein:
43 He that soweth, as if he should not reap: so also he that planteth the vineyard, as he that shall not gather the grapes:
44 They that marry, as they that shall get no children; and they that marry not, as the widowers.
45 And therefore they that labour labour in vain:
46 For strangers shall reap their fruits, and spoil their goods, overthrow their houses, and take their children captives, for in captivity and famine shall they get children.
47 And they that occupy their merchandise with robbery, the more they deck their cities, their houses, their possessions, and their own persons:
48 The more will I be angry with them for their sin, saith the Lord.
49 Like as a whore envieth a right honest and virtuous woman:
50 So shall righteousness hate iniquity, when she decketh herself, and shall accuse her to her face, when he cometh that shall defend him that diligently searcheth out every sin upon earth.
51 And therefore be ye not like thereunto, nor to the works thereof.
52 For yet a little, and iniquity shall be taken away out of the earth, and righteousness shall reign among you.
53 Let not the sinner say that he hath not sinned: for God shall burn coals of fire upon his head, which saith before the Lord God and his glory, I have not sinned.
54 Behold, the Lord knoweth all the works of men, their imaginations, their thoughts, and their hearts:
55 Which spake but the word, Let the earth be made; and it was made: Let the heaven be made; and it was created.
56 In his word were the stars made, and he knoweth the number of them.
57 He searcheth the deep, and the treasures thereof; he hath measured the sea, and what it containeth.
58 He hath shut the sea in the midst of the waters, and with his word hath he hanged the earth upon the waters.
59 He spreadeth out the heavens like a vault; upon the waters hath he founded it.
60 In the desert hath he made springs of water, and pools upon the tops of the mountains, that the floods might pour down from the high rocks to water the earth.
61 He made man, and put his heart in the midst of the body, and gave him breath, life, and understanding.
62 Yea and the Spirit of Almighty God, which made all things, and searcheth out all hidden things in the secrets of the earth,
63 Surely he knoweth your inventions, and what ye think in your hearts, even them that sin, and would hide their sin.
64 Therefore hath the Lord exactly searched out all your works, and he will put you all to shame.
65 And when your sins are brought forth, ye shall be ashamed before men, and your own sins shall be your accusers in that day.
66 What will ye do? or how will ye hide your sins before God and his angels?
67 Behold, God himself is the judge, fear him: leave off from your sins, and forget your iniquities, to meddle no more with them for ever: so shall God lead you forth, and deliver you from all trouble.
68 For, behold, the burning wrath of a great multitude is kindled over you, and they shall take away certain of you, and feed you, being idle, with things offered unto idols.
69 And they that consent unto them shall be had in derision and in reproach, and trodden under foot.
70 For there shall be in every place, and in the next cities, a great insurrection upon those that fear the Lord.
71 They shall be like mad men, sparing none, but still spoiling and destroying those that fear the Lord.
72 For they shall waste and take away their goods, and cast them out of their houses.
73 Then shall they be known, who are my chosen; and they shall be tried as the gold in the fire.
74 Hear, O ye my beloved, saith the Lord: behold, the days of trouble are at hand, but I will deliver you from the same.
75 Be ye not afraid neither doubt; for God is your guide,
76 And the guide of them who keep my commandments and precepts, saith the Lord God: let not your sins weigh you down, and let not your iniquities lift up themselves.
77 Woe be unto them that are bound with their sins, and covered with their iniquities like as a field is covered over with bushes, and the path thereof covered with thorns, that no man may travel through!
78 It is left undressed, and is cast into the fire to be consumed therewith.
This is the end of 2 Esdras.
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