The Second Book of Esdras

Chapter 4

4:1 “And the angel who had been sent to me, whose name was Uriel, answered and said to me,”
4:2 “Your mind has utterly failed in this world and do you expect to understand the way of the Most High?”
4:3 “And I said, “Yes, my lord.” And he answered me and said, “I was sent to show you three ways, and to set three figures before you.”
4:4 “If you can solve one of these for me, I will show you the way you want to see and teach you why the heart is wicked.”
4:5 “And I said, “Go on, my lord.” And he said to me, “Come, weigh me the weight of fire, or measure me a measure of wind, or call back for me the day that is past.”
4:6 “And I answered and said, “Who that is born can do that, that you should ask such things of me?”
4:7 “And he said to me, “If I had asked you, ‘How many dwellings are there in the heart of the sea, or how many streams at the source of the deep, or how many ways above the firmament, or what are the ways of leaving Paradise? ‘“
4:8 “Perhaps you would have said to me, ‘I have never gone down into the deep, nor into Hades, nor have I ever climbed up into the heavens.’“
4:9 “But now I have only asked you about fire and wind and the day, through all of which you have passed, and without which you cannot live, and you have given me no answer about them!”
4:10 “And he said to me, “Your own things that grow up with you, you cannot understand;”
4:11 “And how can your frame grasp the way of the Most High or one already worn out by the corrupt world understand incorruption?”
4:12 “And when I heard this, I fell on my face and said to him, “It would have been better that we should not be here than to come here and live in ungodliness, and suffer, without understanding why.”
4:13 “And he answered me and said, I went to a forest of trees of the field, and they took counsel”
4:14 “And said, ‘Come, let us go and make war on the sea, so that it may retire before us, and we may make more forests for us.’“
4:15 “In like manner the waves of the sea themselves also took counsel and said, ‘Come, let us go up and conquer the forest of the field, so that there also we may win ourselves more territory.’“
4:16 “And the thought of the forest was in vain, for the fire came and consumed it;”
4:17 “So was the thought, of the sea waves, for the sand stood firm and stopped them.”
4:18 “Now if you were their judge, which of them would you have undertaken to justify, and which to condemn?”
4:19 “And I answered and said, “It was a foolish plan that both formed, for the land is given to the forest, and the place of the sea is given it to bear its waves.”
4:20 “And he answered me and said, “You have judged rightly; and why have you not judged so in your own case?”
4:21 “For just as the land is given to the forest, and the sea to its waves, so those who live on the earth can understand only the things that are on the earth, and those who are above the heavens, the things that are above the height of the heavens.”
4:22 “Then I answered and said, “I beseech you, sir, to what end has the capacity for understanding been given me?”
4:23 “For I did not mean to ask about ways above, but about those things which pass by us every day: why Israel is given up to the heathen in disgrace; the people whom you loved are given up to godless tribes; and the law of our forefathers is made of no effect, and the written agreements are no more.”
4:24 “And we pass from the world like locusts, and do not deserve to obtain mercy.”
4:25 “But what will he do for his name, by which we are called? It is about these things that I have asked.”
4:26 “And he answered me and said, “If you live, you will see, and if you survive, you will often marvel; for the age is hurrying fast to its end;”
4:27 “For it will not be able to bear the things that are promised to the upright in the appointed times; for this age is full of sorrow and weakness.”
4:28 “For the evil about which you ask me is sown but the harvest of it has not yet come.”
4:29 “So unless what has been sown is reaped, and unless the place where the evil was sown passes away, the field where the good is sown cannot come.”
4:30 “For a grain of evil seed was sown from the beginning in the heart of Adam and how much ungodliness it has produced up to this time and will produce before the judgment comes.”
4:31 “Estimate for yourself how great a crop of ungodliness a grain, of evil seed has produced.”
4:32 “And when ears without number are sown, how great a threshing floor they will inevitably fill!”
4:33 “And I answered and said, “How long and when shall this be? Why are our years few and evil?”
4:34 “And he answered me and said, “You cannot hurry faster than the Most High, for you hurry for your own self, but he who is above hurries for many.”
4:35 “Did not the souls of the upright ask about these things in their rooms, saying, ‘How long must I hope thus? And when will the harvest of our reward come?’“
4:36 “And Jeremiel, the archangel, answered them and said, “When the number of those who are like you is complete, for he has weighed the world in the balance,”
4:37 “And has measured the times with a measure, and carefully counted the hours, and he will not move or disturb them, until the prescribed measure is reached.’“
4:38 “And I answered and said, “O Sovereign Lord, but all even of us are full of ungodliness.”
4:39 “And let not the harvest of the upright be perchance kept back, on account of the sins of those who live on the earth.”
4:40 “And he answered me and said, “Go and ask a woman who is with child if when she has completed her nine months her womb can keep the child within her any longer.”
4:41 “And I said, “No, sir, it cannot.” And he said to me, “In Hades the storehouses of souls are like the womb;”
4:42 “For just as a woman who is bearing a child makes haste to escape the inevitable birth, so these places also make haste to give up those things that were entrusted to them from the beginning.”
4:43 “Then those things which you desire to see will be disclosed to you.”
4:44 “And I answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, and if it is possible, and if I am fit for it,”
4:45 “Show me this also, whether there is more to come than past or the greater part has gone by us.”
4:46 “For what is past I know, but I do not know what is to come.”
4:47 “And he said to me, “Stand at my right and I will show you the meaning of a figure.”
4:48 “And I stood there and looked, and behold, a burning furnace passed before me, and it came to pass, when the flame had gone by, that I looked and, behold, the smoke remained.”
4:49 “After that, a cloud full of water passed before me, and stormily sent down a heavy rain, and when the rainstorm had passed, the drops remained in it.”
4:50 “And he said to me, “Consider for yourself; for as the rain is more than the drops, and the fire is more than the smoke, so the quantity that has past has far exceeded, but the drops and the smoke remained.”
4:51 “Then I prayed and said, “Do you think I shall live until that time?”
4:52 “He answered me and said, “About the signs of which you ask me, I can tell you of them in part, but as to your life I was not sent to tell you, but I do not know.”

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