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The Second Book of Esdras

Chapter 5

5:1 “But about the signs: Behold, the days will come, when those who live on the earth will be seized with great dismay, and the way of truth will be hidden, and the land will be barren of faith.”
5:2 “And iniquity will be increased beyond what you yourself see, and beyond what you ever heard of.”
5:3 “And the country which you now see ruling will be wasted and untrodden, and men shall see it deserted.”
5:4 “But if the Most High grants you life, you will see it after the third day thrown into confusion, and the sun will shine suddenly in the night and the moon in the daytime.”
5:5 “Blood shall trickle out of wood, and a stone will utter its voice, and peoples will be troubled, and the courses will be changed.”
5:6 “And one will reign for whom those who live on the earth do not hope, and the birds will fly away together.”
5:7 “And the Sea of Sodom will cast forth fish, and one whom the many do not now will utter his voice in the night, but all will hear his voice.”
5:8 “And there will be darkness in many places, and fire will often break out, and wild animals will go outside their haunts, and women in their uncleanness will bear monsters.”
5:9 “And salt waters will be found in sweet, and all friends will conquer one another, and intelligence will hide itself, and understanding retire to its room;”
5:10 “And it will be sought by many and will not be found, and unrighteousness and lack of self-control will increase on the earth.”
5:11 “And one country will ask its neighbor, and say, ‘Has uprightness, or a man who does right, passed through you?’ and it will answer, ‘No.’“
5:12 “At that time, it will happen that men will hope and not obtain; they will work, but their ways will not prosper.”
5:13 “These signs I am permitted to tell you, but if you pray, again and weep as you do now, and fast seven days, you will again hear greater things than these.”
5:14 “Then I awoke, and my body shuddered violently, and my soul was troubled, so that it fainted.”
5:15 “But the angel who came and talked with me held me fast, and strengthened me and set me on my feet.”
5:16 “And on the second night it came to pass that Phaltiel, the captain of the people, came to me and said to me. “Where have you been and why is your face so sad?”
5:17 “Or do you not know that Israel has been entrusted to you in the land of their exile?”
5:18 “Get up therefore and eat some bread, so that you may not forsake us, as a shepherd leaves his flock in the power of wicked wolves.”
5:19 “Then I said to him, “Go away from me, and do not come near me for seven days, and then you can come to me.” And he listened to what I said, and went away from me.”
5:20 “So I fasted for seven days, wailing and lamenting, just as the angel Uriel commanded me.”
5:21 “And it came to pass after seven days that the thoughts of my mind were very painful to me again.”
5:22 “And my soul received the spirit of understanding again, and I began again to utter words before the Most High,”
5:23 “And said, “Sovereign Lord, from all the forests on the earth and from all its trees you chose one vine,”
5:24 “And from all the lands in the world you chose for yourself one garden, and from all the flowers in the world you chose for yourself one lily,”
5:25 “And from all the depths of the sea you filled yourself one river, and of all the cities that have been built you consecrated Zion to yourself,”
5:26 “And of all the birds that have been created you named for yourself one dove, and of all the cattle that have been formed you provided for yourself one sheep,”
5:27 “And of all the peoples that have multiplied you got yourself one people, and you gave to this people that you desired a law that was approved by all.”
5:28 “And now, Lord, why have you given this one up to the many, and after preparing one root above the others have you scattered your only one among the many?”
5:29 “And those who opposed your promises have trampled on those who believed your agreements.”
5:30 “For if you really hate your people it ought to be punished with your own hands.”
5:31 “And it came to pass when I had uttered these words that the angel who had come to me on a previous night was sent to me.”
5:32 “And he said to me, “Listen to me, and I will instruct you; attend to me, and I will tell you more.”
5:33 “And I said, “Speak, my lord.” And he said to me, “Are you so very much distracted over Israel, or do you love him more than his Maker does?”
5:34 “And I said, “No, sir, but I spoke from grief, for my heart pains me very hour, while I strive to understand the way of the Most High, and to inquire into what his decree apportions.”
5:35 “And he said to me, “You cannot.” And I said, “Why, sir, then why was I born? And why did not my mother’s womb become my grave, so that I might not see the trouble of Jacob, and the exhaustion of the posterity of Israel?”
5:36 “And he said to me, “Count up for me those that have not yet come, and gather the scattered raindrops for me, and make the withered flowers green again for me,”
5:37 “And open the closed chambers for me, and bring out for me the winds shut up in them, or show me the picture of a voice, and then I will show you the mark you ask to see.”
5:38 “And I said, “Sovereign Lord, who is there who can know these things except he whose dwelling is not with men?”
5:39 “But I am foolish, and how can I speak of these things about which you have asked me?”
5:40 “And he said to me, “Just as you cannot do one of these things that were mentioned, so you cannot find out my judgment, or the end of the love that I have promised my people.”
5:41 “And I said, “But behold, sir, you protect those who are alive at the end, but what will those who were before us do, or we, or those who come after us?”
5:42 “And he said to me, “I will compare my judgment to a crown; just as there is no slowness on the part of those who are last, there is no swiftness on the part of those who are first.”
5:43 “And I answered and said, “Could you not have created at one time those who have been created, and those who are now, and those who are to be, so that you might show your judgment sooner?”
5:44 “And he answered me and said, “The creation cannot make more haste than the Creator, and the world cannot at one time hold all who have been created in it.”
5:45 “Then I said, “How could you say to your slave that you would surely make the creation created by you alive all together? If therefore they are all to live at once, it can support them all at once now.”
5:46 “And he said to me, “Ask a woman’s womb and say to it, ‘If you bring forth ten children, why do so at intervals?’ Ask it therefore to produce ten at once.”
5:47 “And I said, “Of course it cannot, but can do it only in time.”
5:48 “And he said to me, “And I have made the earth the womb for those who are at intervals engendered in it.”
5:49 “For just as an infant cannot bear, or as one who is old cannot do it any more, so I have organized the world that I created.”
5:50 “And I asked him and said, “Since you have now shown me the way I will speak before you. For is our mother, of whom you have told me, still young, or is she now approaching old age?”
5:51 “And he answered me and said, “Ask a woman who bears children, and she will tell you.”
5:52 “For if you say to her, ‘Why are those whom you have borne lately not like those whom you bore before but smaller in stature?’“
5:53 “She herself will tell you, ‘Those who were born in the vigor of youth are of one kind, and those who were born in old age, when the womb was failing, are of another.’“
5:54 “So you too must consider that you are smaller in stature than those who were before you,”
5:55 “And those who come after you will be smaller than you, for the creation is already growing old, as it were, and past the strength of youth.”
5:56 “And I said, “I beseech you, sir, if I have found favor in your sight, show your slave by whom you will visit your creation.”

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