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The Second Book of Esdras

Chapter 7

7:1 “And it came to pass, when I had finished saying these words, that the angel was sent to me who had been sent to me on the former nights,”
7:2 “And he said to me, “Get up, Ezra, and hear the words which I have come to say to you.”
7:3 “And I said, “Speak, my lord.” And he said to me, “Suppose a sea lies in a broad expanse, so that it is wide and vast,”
7:4 “But the entrance to it is located in a narrow space, so that it is like a river;”
7:5 “If anyone is determined to reach the sea, to see it or master it, how can he reach the broad water unless he passes through the narrows?”
7:6 “Another illustration: Suppose a city is built and located on level ground, and is full of all good things,”
7:7 “But the approach to it is narrow and precipitous so that there is fire on the right hand and deep water on the left,”
7:8 “And there is only one path lying between them, that is, between the fire and the water, so that the path can support the steps of only one man.”
7:9 “Now if that city is given to a man as an inheritance, if the heir does not pass through the danger that lies before it, how can he receive his inheritance?”
7:10 “And I said, “True, sir.” And he said to me, “Israel’s destiny is like that.”
7:11 “For I made the world for their sake, and when Adam transgressed my statutes, what has now happened was decreed;”
7:12 “And the ways of entering this world were made narrow, grievous, and toilsome, and few and evil, full of dangers and burdened with great hardships.”
7:13 “But the approaches to the greater world are broad and safe and produce the fruit of immortality.”
7:14 “Unless therefore the living have really entered these narrow and fruitless experiences, they cannot obtain the things that are destined for them.”
7:15 “But now why are you disturbed, though you are to perish? And why are you so moved, though you are mortal?”
7:16 “And why do you not take into consideration what is future, but only what is present?”
7:17 “And I answered and said, “Sovereign Lord, you have ordained in your law that the upright shall possess these things, but the ungodly shall perish.”
7:18 “So the upright can endure straitened circumstances in the hope of ample ones, but those who have done wickedly endure the straitened circumstances and will not see the ample ones.”
7:19 “And he said to me, “You are not a better judge than God, or more intelligent than the Most High!”
7:20 “For let the many that exist perish, rather than that the Law of God which has been set before them be disregarded.”
7:21 “For God strictly commanded those who came, at their coming, as to what they should do to live, and what they should observe to escape being punished.”
7:22 “But they disobeyed and opposed him, and they devised foolish thoughts;”
7:23 “And conceived wicked wiles, and went so far as to say that the Most High did not exist, and they ignored his ways,”
7:24 “And scorned his law, and denied his agreements, and had no faith in his statutes, and did not complete his work.”
7:25 “Therefore, Ezra, the empty have emptiness, and the full, fullness.”
7:26 “For behold the time will come, and it will be that when the signs come which I have foretold to you, the city that appears as a bride will appear, and the land which is now hidden will be seen.”
7:27 “And whoever is delivered from the evils I have predicted will see my wonders.”
7:28 “For my son the Christ will be revealed with those who are with him, and he will make glad those who are left, in four hundred years.”
7:29 “And it will be after those years that my son Christ will die, and all who draw human breath.”
7:30 “And the world will be turned into its ancient silence for seven days, as it was in the first beginning, so that no one will be left.”
7:31 “And it will be after seven days that the world which is not yet awake will be wakened, and what is corruptible will perish.”
7:32 “And the earth will give up those who are asleep in it, and the dust those who are silent in it, and the chambers will give up the souls that have been committed to them.”
7:33 “And the Most High will be revealed on his judgment seat, and pity will pass away, and long-suffering be withdrawn,”
7:34 “And judgment alone will remain, and truth will stand, and faithfulness be strong,”
7:35 “And work will be rewarded, and its wages appear, and uprightness will awake and iniquity will not sleep.”
7:36 “And the lake of torment will appear, and over against it will be a place of rest; the furnace of the Pit will appear, and over against it the paradise of joy.”
7:[37] “Then the Most High will say to the heathen that have been raised up, ‘See and understand whom you have denied, or whom you have refused to serve, or whose commands you have scorned.”
7:[38] “Look at this side and at that; on this side, joy and rest, and on that, fire and torment.’“
7:[39] “So he will speak to them on the Day of Judgment;”
7:[40] “A day that has no sun or moon or stars, or cloud, or thunder, or lightning, or wind;”
7:[41] “Or water or air, or darkness or evening or morning, or summer or heat or winter or frost or cold, or hail or rain or dew,”
7:[42] “Or noon or night, or dawn or sunshine or brightness or light, only the splendor of the glory of the Most High,”
7:[43] “By which all will begin to see what is destined for them. For it will last as though for a week of years.”
7:[44] “This is my judgment and its arrangement; and to you alone have I shown this.”
7:[45] “And I answered, “I said then, Lord, and I say now, blessed are those who live and keep your commandments!”
7:[46] “But about those for whom I prayed, who is there of those who live who has not sinned, or who is there that is born who has not transgressed your agreement?”
7:[47] “And now I see that the world to come will bring joy to few but torment to many.”
7:[48] “For an evil heart has grown up in us, which has alienated us from these commands, and has led us off to corruption and the ways of death, and shown us the paths of perdition, and removed us far from life, and that, not just a few, but almost all who have been created!”
7:[49] “And he answered me and said, “Listen to me, and I will instruct you, and I will admonish you a second time.”
7:[50] “It was on this account that the Most High made not one world but two.”
7:[51] “For because you have said that the upright are not many but few, and the ungodly abound, hear the answer to this.”
7:[52] “If you have a very few precious stones, will you increase their number with lead and clay?”
7:[53] “And I said, “Lord, how can that be?”
7:[54] “And he said to me, “Not only that, but ask the earth and she will tell you; entreat her, and she will inform you.”
7:[55] “For you must say to her, ‘You produce gold and silver and copper and also iron and lead and clay.”
7:[56] “But silver is more abundant than gold, and copper than silver, and iron than copper, lead than iron, and clay than lead.”
7:[57] “So consider which things are precious and to be desired, what is abundant, or what is rare?”
7:[58] “And I said, “Sovereign Lord, what is plentiful is cheaper, for what is more rare is more precious.”
7:[59] “And he answered me and said, “Consider with yourself what you have thought, for he who has what is hard to get rejoices more than he who has what is plentiful.”
7:[60] “It is so with the judgment that I have promised; for I will rejoice over the few who will be saved, because it is they who have made my glory to prevail more now, and through whom my name has now been honored.”
7:[61] “And I will not grieve over the great number of those who perish, for they are the ones who are now like vapor, and counted as flame and smoke; they have burned and glowed and gone out.”
7:[62] And I answered and said, “O earth, why have you brought forth, if the understanding is made out of dust like other creatures!”
7:[63] “For it would have been better if the dust itself had not been born, so that the intelligence might not have sprung from it.”
7:[64] “But now the intelligence grows with us, and it is on this account that we are tormented, because we must perish, and we know it!”
7:[65] “Let the human race lament, and the wild beasts rejoice; let all who are born lament, but the four-footed creatures and the cattle be glad.”
7:[66] “For they are much better off than we, for they do not look for a judgment, and they do not know of any torment or salvation promised to them after death.”
7:[67] “But what benefit is it to us that we are preserved alive but cruelly tormented?”
7:[68] “For all who are born are involved in iniquities and full of sins and weighed down with offenses.”
7:[69] “And if we were not to come to judgment after death, perhaps it would have been better for us.”
7:[70] “And he answered me and said, “When the Most High made the world, and Adam and all who came from him, he first prepared the judgment and the things that belong to the judgment.”
7:[71] “And now understand from your own words, for you said that the intelligence grows with us.”
7:[72] “So those who live on the earth will be tortured on this account because, though they had intelligence, they did iniquity, and though they received commandments, they did not keep them, and though they had obtained the Law, they broke it.”
7:[73] “What will they have to say then at the judgment, or how will they answer in the last times?”
7:[74] “For how long the Most High has shown long-suffering to those who inhabit the world, and not for their sake, but for the sake of the times that he has fixed!”
7:[75] “Then I answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, Sovereign, show this also to your slave; whether after death as soon as each one of us gives up his soul, we shall be faithfully kept at rest until those times come when you begin to renew the creation, or shall be tortured at once.”
7:[76] “And he answered me and said, “I will show you that also; but you must not associate with those who have shown scorn, or count yourself among those who are tortured.”
7:[77] “For you have a treasure of works laid up with the Most High, but it will not be shown to you until the last times.”
7:[78] “For about death, the teaching is: When the final sentence goes forth from the Most High that a man is to die, when the soul departs from the body to return again to him who gave it, first of all it prays to the glory of the Most High;”
7:[79] “If it was one of those who scorned and did not observe the way of the Most High, and of those who have despised his law, and of those who hate those who fear God,”
7:[80] “Such spirits shall not enter dwellings but wander about thenceforth in torment, always grieving and sad, in seven ways:”
7:[81] “The first way is that they have scorned the Law of the Most High.”
7:[82] “The second way is that they can no longer make a good repentance, so that they may live.”
7:[83] “The third way is that they will see the reward destined for those who have believed the agreements of the Most High.”
7:[84] “The fourth way is that they will consider the torment destined for them in the last days.”
7:[85] “The fifth way is that they will see that the dwelling-places of the others are guarded by angels in profound silence.”
7:[86] “The sixth way is that they will see that some of them will pass over to be tormented henceforth.”
7:[87] “The seventh way, which is worse than all the ways that have been mentioned, is that they will waste away in shame and be consumed in disgrace, and wither with fear, at seeing the glory of the Most High before whom they sinned while they lived, and before whom they are destined to be judged in the last times.”
7:[88] “But of those who have observed the ways of the Most High. this is the order. when they shall be separated from this fragile jar.”
7:[89] “In the time when they lived in it they carefully served the Most High, though they were in danger every hour so as to keep the Law of the Lawgiver perfectly.”
7:[90] “Therefore this is the teaching about them:”
7:[91] “First of all, they see with great rapture the glory of him who takes them up, for they will rest in seven orders.”
7:[92] “The first order is that they have striven with much toil to conquer the wicked thought that was formed with them so that it should not lead them away from life to death.”
7:[93] “The second order is that they see the labyrinth in which the souls of the ungodly wander and the punishment that awaits them.”
7:[94] “The third order is that they see the testimony that he who formed them has borne to them, because when they were alive they faithfully observed the Law which was given them.”
7:[95] “The fourth order is that they understand the rest which they now enjoy gathered in their chambers in great quietness watched over by angels, and the glory that awaits them in the last days.”
7:[96] “The fifth order is that they exult that they have now escaped what is corruptible and will possess the future as their inheritance and besides perceive the narrowness and toilsomeness from which they have been freed and the spaciousness they are destined to receive and enjoy in immortality.”
7:[97] “The sixth order is that it is shown to them how their face is destined to shine like the sun, and how they are to be made like the light of the stars, and be incorruptible thenceforth.”
7:[98] “The seventh order, which is greater than all those that have been mentioned, is that they will exult boldly, and that they will trust confidently, and rejoice fearlessly for they hasten to see the face of him whom they served in life, and from whom they are to receive their reward when they are glorified.”
7:[99] “These are the orders of the souls of the upright, as henceforth proclaimed, and the above ways of torture are those which those who would not give heed will henceforth suffer.”
7:[100] “And I answered and said, “Then will time be given the souls after they are separated from the bodies, to see what you have told me of?”
7:[101] “And he said to me, “They have freedom for seven days, to see on the seven days the things you have been told, and afterward they will be gathered in their dwellings.”
7:[102] “And I answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, show me, your slave, further, whether on the Day of Judgment the upright will be able to intercede for the ungodly, or to beseech the Most High on their behalf,”
7:[103] “Fathers for sons, or sons for parents, brothers for brothers, relatives for their kinsmen, and friends for those who are most dear to them.”
7:[104] “And he answered me and said, “Since you have found favor in my sight, I will show you this also. The Day of Judgment is final and shows to all the stamp of truth. Just as now a father cannot send his son or a son his father or a master his slave or a friend his dearest friend to be sick for him,”
7:[105] “Or sleep or eat or be cured, so no one can pray for another then, or lay a burden on another, for they must all bear everyone his own iniquity or uprightness then.”
7:36 “And I answered and said, “How then do we now find that first Abraham prayed for the men of Sodom, and Moses for our forefathers who sinned in the desert,”
7:37 “And Joshua after him for Israel in the days of Achan:”
7:38 “And Samuel in the days of Saul, and David for the plague, and Solomon for those in the sanctuary,”
7:39 “And Elijah for those who received the rain, and for one who was dead, that he might live,”
7:40 “And Hezekiah for the people in the days of Sennacherib, and many others for many?”
7:41 “So if now, when corruption has increased and wrong has multiplied, the upright have prayed for the ungodly, why will it not be so then also?”
7:42 “And he answered me and said, “The present world is not the end, and its glory is not lasting; therefore those who were strong prayed for the weak.”
7:43 “But the Day of Judgment will be the end of this world, and the beginning of the immortal world to come in which corruption has passed away,”
7:44 “Immortality is ended, unbelief is abolished, uprightness has increased, and truth has appeared.”
7:45 “So no one will then be able to pity one who is condemned in the judgment, or harm one who is victorious.”
7:46 “And I answered and said, “This is my first and last word: for it would have been better for the earth not to have produced Adam, or when it had produced him compelled him not to sin.”
7:47 “For what good is it to all men to live in sorrow and expect punishment after death?”
7:48 “O Adam, what have you done? For although it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but also ours, for we are descended from you.”
7:49 “For what good does it do us if the eternal world is promised to us, but we have done deeds that bring death?”
7:50 “And that an imperishable hope is proclaimed to us, but we have miserably failed?”
7:51 “And that safe and healthy habitations are reserved for us, but we have lived wickedly?”
7:52 “And that the glory of the Most High is going to protect those who have lived purely but we have walked in the most wicked ways?”
7:53 “And that a Paradise will be revealed the fruit of which endures uncorrupted which contains plenty and healing, but we cannot enter it.”
7:54 “For we have lived in unseemly ways?”
7:55 “And that the faces of those who have practiced abstinence will shine brighter than the stars, but our faces will be blacker than darkness?”
7:56 “For when we were alive and committed iniquity, we did not consider what we were to suffer after death.”
7:57 “And he answered and said, “This is the meaning of the battle that every man born on earth must fight;”
7:58 “That, if he is beaten, he will suffer what you have said, but if he is victorious, he will receive what I say.”
7:59 “For this is the way of which Moses spoke, when he was alive, saying to the people, ‘Choose life for yourself, so that you may live!’“
7:60 “But they would not believe him or the prophets after him, or yet me who have spoken to them.”
7:61 “So there will be not so much grief at their destruction as joy over those who have been persuaded of salvation.”
7:62 “And I answered and said, “I know, sir, that the Most High is now called merciful, because he has mercy on those who have not yet come into the world,”
7:63 “And gracious, because he is gracious to those who turn to his Law,”
7:64 “And long-suffering, because he is long-suffering to those who have sinned as his creatures,”
7:65 “And, bountiful, because he had rather give than exact,”
7:66 “And of great mercy, because he multiplies mercies more and more to those who are alive and those who have passed away and those who are to be.”
7:67 “For if he did not multiply them, the world with those who live in it would not be made alive,”
7:68 “And a giver, for if he did not give in his goodness, so that those who have committed iniquities might be relieved of them, not one ten-thousandth of mankind could have life;”
7:69 “And a judge, for if he did not pardon those who were created by his word, and erase a multitude of offenses,”
7:70 “There would probably be left only very few of the innumerable multitude.”

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