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The Second Book of Esdras

Chapter 8

8:1 “And he answered me and said, “Most High made this world for many, but the world to come, for the sake of few.”
8:2 “But I will tell you a parable, Ezra. Just as, if you ask the earth, it will tell you that it produces much more soil from which earthen-ware is made, but little dust from which gold comes, that is the way with the present world;”
8:3 “Many have been created, but few will be saved.”
8:4 “And I answered and said, “Then drink down understanding, my soul, and devour wisdom, my heart!”
8:5 “For not of your own will you came, and against your will you go, for you have been given only a short time to live.”
8:6 “O Lord above us, if you will only allow your slave to pray before you, and would give us seed for the heart and cultivation of the understanding so that fruit may be produced, by which a corruptible being, who bears the image of man, may live!”
8:7 “For you stand alone, and we are one creation of your hands, as you have said.”
8:8 “And when you bring to life a body formed in the womb, and provide its members, what you have created is preserved in fire and water, and for nine months what you have formed endures your creation which has been created in it.”
8:9 “But that which preserves and that which is preserved are both preserved by your preserving. And when the womb gives up what has been created in it,”
8:10 “You have commanded that from the members themselves, that is from the breasts, milk, the fruit of the breasts, be given,”
8:11 “So that what has been formed may be nourished for a time, and afterward you develop it in your mercy.”
8:12 “You nourish it in your uprightness, and instruct it through your Law, and bring it up in your wisdom.”
8:13 “You put it to death as your creation, and make it live as your work.”
8:14 “If then you lightly destroy him who was formed with such pains, at your command, why was he made at all?”
8:15 “And now I will speak out: About all mankind you know best; but it is about your people that I am grieved,”
8:16 “And it is for your inheritance that I mourn, and about Israel that I am sad, and about the posterity of Jacob that I am disturbed.”
8:17 “Therefore I will begin to pray before you for myself and for them, for I see the failings of us who live in the land;”
8:18 “And I have heard of the strictness of the judgment that is to come.”
8:19 “Therefore hear my voice, and consider my words, and I will speak before you.” The beginning of the words of the prayer of Ezra, before he was taken up. And he said,”
8:20 “Lord, who inhabit eternity, whose are the highest heavens, and whose upper chambers are in the air,”
8:21 “Whose throne is immeasurable, and whose glory is beyond comprehension, before whom the hosts of angels stand trembling,”
8:22 “And at your command are changed to wind and fire, whose word is sure and whose utterances are certain, whose command is mighty and whose orders are terrible,”
8:23 “Whose look dries up the depths, and whose indignation melts the mountains, and whose truth endures forever,”
8:24 “Hear, Lord, the prayer of your slave, and listen to the petition of your creature, and heed my words;”
8:25 “For as long as I live I must speak, and as long as I have my reason I must answer.”
8:26 “Do not look at the sins of your people, but at those who have served you in truth!”
8:27 “And do not notice the pursuits of the ungodly, but those who have observed your agreements under torture.”
8:28 “And do not think of those who have behaved wickedly in your sight, but remember those who have willingly acknowledged your fear.”
8:29 “And do not will the destruction of those who have the ways of cattle, but have regard for those who have so finely taught your Law.”
8:30 “And do not be indignant at those who are deemed worse than beasts, but love those who have always trusted in your glory.”
8:31 “For we and our forefathers have followed ways that bring death, but it is because of us sinners that you are called merciful.”
8:32 “For if you desire to have pity on us, you will be called merciful, for we have no deeds of uprightness to show.”
8:33 “For the upright, who have many good deeds laid up with you, will receive their reward in consequence of their own deeds.”
8:34 “For what is man, that you are indignant at him, or what is a corruptible race, that you are so bitter toward it?”
8:35 “For in truth there is no one among those who were ever born who has not acted wickedly, or among those who have grown up who has not sinned.”
8:36 “For in this, Lord, your uprightness and goodness will be declared, if you have mercy on those who have no stock of good deeds.”
8:37 “And he answered me and said, “Some things you have said well, and it will come to pass in accordance with your words.”
8:38 “For indeed I will not think about the forming of those who have sinned, or their death or judgment or destruction,”
8:39 “But I will rejoice over the fashioning of the upright, over their pilgrimage also, and their salvation and the reward they will receive.”
8:40 “So it is as I have said.”
8:41 “For just as the farmer sows many seeds upon the ground, and plants a multitude of plants, and yet not all that was sown will be saved in due time, and not all that were planted will take root, so those who are sown in the world will not all be saved.”
8:42 “And I answered and said, “If I have found favor before you, I will speak.”
8:43 “For if the farmer’s seed does not come up, because it has not received your rain in season, or if it has been spoiled by an excess of rain, it perishes;”
8:44 “But man, who was formed by your hands and is called your image, because he is made like you – for whose sake you formed everything – do you compare him to the farmer’s seed?”
8:45 “No, Lord above us, but spare your people and have pity on your inheritance, for you pity your own creation.”
8:46 “And he answered me and said, The present for those who are now, and the future for those who shall be.”
8:47 “For you are far from able to love what I have created more than I. But you have often counted yourself among the ungodly. Never!”
8:48 “But for this you will be commended before the Most High,”
8:49 “Because you humbled yourself, as was fitting, and did not count yourself among the upright, so as to glorify yourself too much.”
8:50 “For those so who inhabit the world in the last times will be afflicted with many great miseries, because they have walked in great pride.”
8:51 “But you must think of yourself and ask about the glory of those who are like yourself.”
8:52 “For it is for you that Paradise is opened, the tree of life is planted, the age to come is prepared, plenty is provided, a city is built, a rest is ordained, good deeds completed, wisdom perfected beforehand.”
8:53 “The root of evil is sealed up from you, for you sickness is extinct, and death has departed; Hades has fled, and corruption has gone into oblivion;”
8:54 “Sorrows have passed away, and the treasure of immortality is finally displayed.”
8:55 “So do not ask any more questions about the great number of those who perish.”
8:56 “For though they had received liberty, they scorned the Most High and despised his Law, and forsook his ways.”
8:57 “Moreover they trampled upon his saints,”
8:58 “And said in their hearts that there was no God, though they knew well that they must die.”
8:59 “For just as the things I have spoken of await you, so the thirst and torment which are prepared await them. For the Most High did not wish man to perish,”
8:60 “But those who were created have themselves defiled the name of him who made them, and proved ungrateful to him who prepared life for them.”
8:61 “Therefore my judgment is now drawing near,”
8:62 “But I have not revealed it to all men, but only to you and a few like you.” And I answered and said,”
8:63 “Behold, Lord, you have revealed to me the great number of signs which you are going to perform in the last days, but you have not revealed to me at what time you will do this.”

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