Fourth Ezra or Second Esdras
Date: late 1st century A.D.
 The second book of the prophet Ezra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub,
 son of Ahijah, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, son of Arna, son of Uzzi, son of Borith, son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar,
 son of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi, who was a captive in the country of the Medes in the reign of Artaxerxes, king of the Persians.
 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
 "Go and declare to my people their evil deeds, and to their children the iniquities which they have committed against me, so that they may tell their children's children
 that the sins of their parents have increased in them, for they have forgotten me and have offered sacrifices to strange gods.
 Was it not I who brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage? But they have angered me and despised my counsels.
 Pull out the hair of your head and hurl all evils upon them, for they have not obeyed my law -- they are a rebellious people.
 How long shall I endure them, on whom I have bestowed such great benefits?
 For their sake I have overthrown many kings: I struck down Pharaoh with his servants, and all his army.
 I have destroyed all nations before them, and scattered in the east the people of two provinces, Tyre and Sidon; I have slain all their enemies.
 "But speak to them and say, Thus says the Lord:
 Surely it was I who brought you through the sea, and made safe highways for you where there was no road; I gave you Moses as leader and Aaron as priest;
 I provided light for you from a pillar of fire, and did great wonders among you. Yet you have forgotten me, says the Lord.
 "Thus says the Lord Almighty: The quails were a sign to you; I gave you camps for your protection, and in them you complained.
 You have not exulted in my name at the destruction of your enemies, but to this day you still complain.
 Where are the benefits which I bestowed on you? When you were hungry and thirsty in the wilderness, did you not cry out to me,
 saying, `Why hast thou led us into this wilderness to kill us? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in this wilderness.'
 I pitied your groanings and gave you manna for food; you ate the bread of angels.
 When you were thirsty, did I not cleave the rock so that waters flowed in abundance? Because of the heat I covered you with the leaves of trees.
 I divided fertile lands among you; I drove out the Canaanites, the Perizzites, and the Philistines before you. What more can I do for you? says the Lord.
 Thus says the Lord Almighty: When you were in the wilderness, at the bitter stream, thirsty and blaspheming my name,
 I did not send fire upon you for your blasphemies, but threw a tree into the water and made the stream sweet.
 "What shall I do to you, O Jacob? You would not obey me, O Judah. I will turn to other nations and will give them my name, that they may keep my statutes.
 Because you have forsaken me, I also will forsake you. When you beg mercy of me, I will show you no mercy.
 When you call upon me, I will not listen to you; for you have defiled your hands with blood, and your feet are swift to commit murder.
 It is not as though you had forsaken me; you have forsaken yourselves, says the Lord.
 "Thus says the Lord Almighty: Have I not entreated you as a father entreats his sons or a mother her daughters or a nurse her children,
 that you should be my people and I should be your God, and that you should be my sons and I should be your father?
 I gathered you as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. But now, what shall I do to you? I will cast you out from my presence.
 When you offer oblations to me, I will turn my face from you; for I have rejected your feast days, and new moons, and circumcisions of the flesh.
 I sent to you my servants the prophets, but you have taken and slain them and torn their bodies in pieces; their blood I will require of you, says the Lord.
 "Thus says the Lord Almighty: Your house is desolate; I will drive you out as the wind drives straw;
 and your sons will have no children, because with you they have neglected my commandment and have done what is evil in my sight.
 I will give your houses to a people that will come, who without having heard me will believe. Those to whom I have shown no signs will do what I have commanded.
 They have seen no prophets, yet will recall their former state.
 I call to witness the gratitude of the people that is to come, whose children rejoice with gladness; though they do not see me with bodily eyes, yet with the spirit they will believe the things I have said.
 "And now, father, look with pride and see the people coming from the east;
 to them I will give as leaders Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and Hosea and Amos and Micah and Joel and Obadiah and Jonah
 and Nahum and Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, who is also called the messenger of the Lord.
 "Thus says the Lord: I brought this people out of bondage, and I gave them commandments through my servants the prophets; but they would not listen to them, and made my counsels void.
 The mother who bore them says to them, `Go, my children, because I am a widow and forsaken.
 I brought you up with gladness; but with mourning and sorrow I have lost you, because you have sinned before the Lord God and have done what is evil in my sight.
 But now what can I do for you? For I am a widow and forsaken. Go, my children, and ask for mercy from the Lord.'
 I call upon you, father, as a witness in addition to the mother of the children, because they would not keep my covenant,
 that you may bring confusion upon them and bring their mother to ruin, so that they may have no offspring.
 Let them be scattered among the nations, let their names be blotted out from the earth, because they have despised my covenant.
 "Woe to you, Assyria, who conceal the unrighteous in your midst! O wicked nation, remember what I did to Sodom and Gomorrah,
 whose land lies in lumps of pitch and heaps of ashes. So will I do to those who have not listened to me, says the Lord Almighty."
 Thus says the Lord to Ezra: "Tell my people that I will give them the kingdom of Jerusalem, which I was going to give to Israel.
 Moreover, I will take back to myself their glory, and will give to these others the everlasting habitations, which I had prepared for Israel.
 The tree of life shall give them fragrant perfume, and they shall neither toil nor become weary.
 Ask and you will receive; pray that your days may be few, that they may be shortened. The kingdom is already prepared for you; watch!
 Call, O call heaven and earth to witness, for I left out evil and created good, because I live, says the Lord.
 "Mother, embrace your sons; bring them up with gladness, as does the dove; establish their feet, because I have chosen you, says the Lord.
 And I will raise up the dead from their places, and will bring them out from their tombs, because I recognize my name in them.
 Do not fear, mother of sons, for I have chosen you, says the Lord.
 I will send you help, my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah. According to their counsel I have consecrated and prepared for you twelve trees loaded with various fruits,
 and the same number of springs flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains on which roses and lilies grow; by these I will fill your children with joy.
 Guard the rights of the widow, secure justice for the fatherless, give to the needy, defend the orphan, clothe the naked,
 care for the injured and the weak, do not ridicule a lame man, protect the maimed, and let the blind man have a vision of my splendor.
 Protect the old and the young within your walls;
 When you find any who are dead, commit them to the grave and mark it, and I will give you the first place in my resurrection.
 Pause and be quiet, my people, because your rest will come.
 Good nurse, nourish your sons, and strengthen their feet.
 Not one of the servants whom I have given you will perish, for I will require them from among your number.
 Do not be anxious, for when the day of tribulation and anguish comes, others shall weep and be sorrowful, but you shall rejoice and have abundance.
 The nations shall envy you but they shall not be able to do anything against you, says the Lord.
 My hands will cover you, that your sons may not see Gehenna.
 Rejoice, O mother, with your sons, because I will deliver you, says the Lord.
 Remember your sons that sleep, because I will bring them out of the hiding places of the earth, and will show mercy to them; for I am merciful, says the Lord Almighty.
 Embrace your children until I come, and proclaim mercy to them; because my springs run over, and my grace will not fail."
 I, Ezra, received a command from the Lord on Mount Horeb to go to Israel. When I came to them they rejected me and refused the Lord's commandment.
 Therefore I say to you, O nations that hear and understand, "Await your shepherd; he will give you everlasting rest, because he who will come at the end of the age is close at hand.
 Be ready for the rewards of the kingdom, because the eternal light will shine upon you for evermore.
 Flee from the shadow of this age, receive the joy of your glory; I publicly call on my Savior to witness.
 Receive what the Lord has entrusted to you and be joyful, giving thanks to him who has called you to heavenly kingdoms.
 Rise and stand, and see at the feast of the Lord the number of those who have been sealed.
 Those who have departed from the shadow of this age have received glorious garments from the Lord.
 Take again your full number, O Zion, and conclude the list of your people who are clothed in white, who have fulfilled the law of the Lord.
 The number of your children, whom you desired, is full; beseech the Lord's power that your people, who have been called from the beginning, may be made holy."
 I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude, which I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs.
 In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound.
 Then I asked an angel, "Who are these, my lord?"
 He answered and said to me, "These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal, and they have confessed the name of God; now they are being crowned, and receive palms."
 Then I said to the angel, "Who is that young man who places crowns on them and puts palms in their hands?"
 He answered and said to me, "He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world." So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord.
 Then the angel said to me, "Go, tell my people how great and many are the wonders of the Lord God which you have seen."
 In the thirtieth year after the destruction of our city, I Salathiel, who am also called Ezra, was in Babylon. I was troubled as I lay on my bed, and my thoughts welled up in my heart,
 because I saw the desolation of Zion and the wealth of those who lived in Babylon.
 My spirit was greatly agitated, and I began to speak anxious words to the Most High, and said,
 "O sovereign Lord, didst thou not speak at the beginning when thou didst form the earth -- and that without help -- and didst command the dust
 and it gave thee Adam, a lifeless body? Yet he was the workmanship of thy hands, and thou didst breathe into him the breath of life, and he was made alive in thy presence.
 And thou didst lead him into the garden which thy right hand had planted before the earth appeared.
 And thou didst lay upon him one commandment of thine; but he transgressed it, and immediately thou didst appoint death for him and for his descendants. From him there sprang nations and tribes, peoples and clans without number.
 And every nation walked after its own will and did ungodly things before thee and scorned thee, and thou didst not hinder them.
 But again, in its time thou didst bring the flood upon the inhabitants of the world and destroy them.
 And the same fate befell them: as death came upon Adam, so the flood upon them.
 But thou didst leave one of them, Noah with his household, and all the righteous who have descended from him.
 "When those who dwelt on earth began to multiply, they produced children and peoples and many nations, and again they began to be more ungodly than were their ancestors.
 And when they were committing iniquity before thee, thou didst choose for thyself one of them, whose name was Abraham;
 and thou didst love him, and to him only didst thou reveal the end of the times, secretly by night.
 Thou didst make with him an everlasting covenant, and promise him that thou wouldst never forsake his descendants; and thou gavest to him Isaac, and to Isaac thou gavest Jacob and Esau.
 And thou didst set apart Jacob for thyself, but Esau thou didst reject; and Jacob became a great multitude.
 And when thou didst lead his descendants out of Egypt, thou didst bring them to Mount Sinai.
 Thou didst bend down the heavens and shake the earth, and move the world, and make the depths to tremble, and trouble the times.
 And thy glory passed through the four gates of fire and earthquake and wind and ice, to give the law to the descendants of Jacob, and thy commandment to the posterity of Israel.
 "Yet thou didst not take away from them their evil heart, so that thy law might bring forth fruit in them.
 For the first Adam, burdened with an evil heart, transgressed and was overcome, as were also all who were descended from him.
 Thus the disease became permanent; the law was in the people's heart along with the evil root, but what was good departed, and the evil remained.
 So the times passed and the years were completed, and thou didst raise up for thyself a servant, named David.
 And thou didst command him to build a city for thy name, and in it to offer thee oblations from what is thine.
 This was done for many years; but the inhabitants of the city transgressed,
 in everything doing as Adam and all his descendants had done, for they also had the evil heart.
 So thou didst deliver the city into the hands of thy enemies.
 "Then I said in my heart, Are the deeds of those who inhabit Babylon any better? Is that why she has gained dominion over Zion?
 For when I came here I saw ungodly deeds without number, and my soul has seen many sinners during these thirty years. And my heart failed me,
 for I have seen how thou dost endure those who sin, and hast spared those who act wickedly, and hast destroyed thy people, and hast preserved thy enemies,
 and hast not shown to any one how thy way may be comprehended. Are the deeds of Babylon better than those of Zion?
 Or has another nation known thee besides Israel? Or what tribes have so believed thy covenants as these tribes of Jacob?
 Yet their reward has not appeared and their labor has borne no fruit. For I have traveled widely among the nations and have seen that they abound in wealth, though they are unmindful of thy commandments.
 Now therefore weigh in a balance our iniquities and those of the inhabitants of the world; and so it will be found which way the turn of the scale will incline.
 When have the inhabitants of the earth not sinned in thy sight? Or what nation has kept thy commandments so well?
 Thou mayest indeed find individual men who have kept thy commandments, but nations thou wilt not find."
 Then the angel that had been sent to me, whose name was Uriel, answered
 and said to me, "Your understanding has utterly failed regarding this world, and do you think you can comprehend the way of the Most High?"
 Then I said, "Yes, my lord." And he replied to me, "I have been sent to show you three ways, and to put before you three problems.
 If you can solve one of them for me, I also will show you the way you desire to see, and will teach you why the heart is evil."
 I said, "Speak on, my lord." And he said to me, "Go, weigh for me the weight of fire, or measure for me a measure of wind, or call back for me the day that is past."
 I answered and said, "Who of those that have been born can do this, that you ask me concerning these things?"
 And he said to me, "If I had asked you, `How many dwellings are in the heart of the sea, or how many streams are at the source of the deep, or how many streams are above the firmament, or which are the exits of hell, or which are the entrances of paradise?'
 Perhaps you would have said to me, `I never went down into the deep, nor as yet into hell, neither did I ever ascend into heaven.'
 But now I have asked you only about fire and wind and the day, things through which you have passed and without which you cannot exist, and you have given me no answer about them!"
 And he said to me, "You cannot understand the things with which you have grown up;
 how then can your mind comprehend the way of the Most High? And how can one who is already worn out by the corrupt world understand incorruption?" When I heard this, I fell on my face
 and said to him, "It would be better for us not to be here than to come here and live in ungodliness, and to suffer and not understand why."
 He answered me and said, "I went into a forest of trees of the plain, and they made a plan
 and said, `Come, let us go and make war against the sea, that it may recede before us, and that we may make for ourselves more forests.'
 And in like manner the waves of the sea also made a plan and said, `Come, let us go up and subdue the forest of the plain so that there also we may gain more territory for ourselves.'
 But the plan of the forest was in vain, for the fire came and consumed it;
 likewise also the plan of the waves of the sea, for the sand stood firm and stopped them.
 If now you were a judge between them, which would you undertake to justify, and which to condemn?"
 I answered and said, "Each has made a foolish plan, for the land is assigned to the forest, and to the sea is assigned a place to carry its waves."
 He answered me and said, "You have judged rightly, but why have you not judged so in your own case?
 For as the land is assigned to the forest and the sea to its waves, so also those who dwell upon earth can understand only what is on the earth, and he who is above the heavens can understand what is above the height of the heavens."
 Then I answered and said, "I beseech you, my lord, why have I been endowed with the power of understanding?
 For I did not wish to inquire about the ways above, but about those things which we daily experience: why Israel has been given over to the Gentiles as a reproach; why the people whom you loved has been given over to godless tribes, and the law of our fathers has been made of no effect and the written covenants no longer exist;
 and why we pass from the world like locusts, and our life is like a mist, and we are not worthy to obtain mercy.
 But what will he do for his name, by which we are called? It is about these things that I have asked."
 He answered me and said, "If you are alive, you will see, and if you live long, you will often marvel, because the age is hastening swiftly to its end.
 For it will not be able to bring the things that have been promised to the righteous in their appointed times, because this age is full of sadness and infirmities.
 For the evil about which you ask me has been sown, but the harvest of it has not yet come.
 If therefore that which has been sown is not reaped, and if the place where the evil has been sown does not pass away, the field where the good has been sown will not come.
 For a grain of evil seed was sown in Adam's heart from the beginning, and how much ungodliness it has produced until now, and will produce until the time of threshing comes!
 Consider now for yourself how much fruit of ungodliness a grain of evil seed has produced.
 When heads of grain without number are sown, how great a threshing floor they will fill!"
 Then I answered and said, "How long and when will these things be? Why are our years few and evil?"
 He answered me and said, "You do not hasten faster than the Most High, for your haste is for yourself, but the Highest hastens on behalf of many.
 Did not the souls of the righteous in their chambers ask about these matters, saying, `How long are we to remain here? And when will come the harvest of our reward?
 And Jeremiel the archangel answered them and said, `When the number of those like yourselves is completed; for he has weighed the age in the balance,
 and measured the times by measure, and numbered the times by number; and he will not move or arouse them until that measure is fulfilled.'"
 Then I answered and said, "O sovereign Lord, but all of us also are full of ungodliness.
 And it is perhaps on account of us that the time of threshing is delayed for the righteous -- on account of the sins of those who dwell on earth."
 He answered me and said, "Go and ask a woman who is with child if, when her nine months have been completed, her womb can keep the child within her any longer."
 And I said, "No, lord, it cannot."
And he said to me, "In Hades the chambers of the souls are like the womb.
 For just as a woman who is in travail makes haste to escape the pangs of birth, so also do these places hasten to give back those things that were committed to them from the beginning.
 Then the things that you desire to see will be disclosed to you."
 I answered and said, "If I have found favor in your sight, and if it is possible, and if I am worthy,
 show me this also: whether more time is to come than has passed, or whether for us the greater part has gone by.
 For I know what has gone by, but I do not know what is to come."
 And he said to me, "Stand at my right side, and I will show you the interpretation of a parable."
 So I stood and looked, and behold, a flaming furnace passed by before me, and when the flame had gone by I looked, and behold, the smoke remained.
 And after this a cloud full of water passed before me and poured down a heavy and violent rain, and when the rainstorm had passed, drops remained in the cloud.
 And he said to me, "Consider it for yourself; for as the rain is more than the drops, and the fire is greater than the smoke, so the quantity that passed was far greater; but drops and smoke remained."
 Then I prayed and said, "Do you think that I shall live until those days? Or who will be alive in those days?"
 He answered me and said, "Concerning the signs about which you ask me, I can tell you in part; but I was not sent to tell you concerning your life, for I do not know.
 "Now concerning the signs: behold, the days are coming when those who dwell on earth shall be seized with great terror, and the way of truth shall be hidden, and the land shall be barren of faith.
 And unrighteousness shall be increased beyond what you yourself see, and beyond what you heard of formerly.
 And the land which you now see ruling shall be waste and untrodden, and men shall see it desolate.
 But if the Most High grants that you live, you shall see it thrown into confusion after the third period; and the sun shall suddenly shine forth at night,and the moon during the day.
 Blood shall drip from wood,and the stone shall utter its voice;the peoples shall be troubled, and the stars shall fall.
 And one shall reign whom those who dwell on earth do not expect, and the birds shall fly away together;
 and the sea of Sodom shall cast up fish; and one whom the many do not know shall make his voice heard by night, and all shall hear his voice.
 There shall be chaos also in many places, and fire shall often break out, and the wild beasts shall roam beyond their haunts, and menstruous women shall bring forth monsters.
 And salt waters shall be found in the sweet, and all friends shall conquer one another; then shall reason hide itself, and wisdom shall withdraw into its chamber,
 and it shall be sought by many but shall not be found, and unrighteousness and unrestraint shall increase on earth.
 And one country shall ask its neighbor, `Has righteousness, or any one who does right, passed through you?' And it will answer, `No.'
 And at that time men shall hope but not obtain; they shall labor but their ways shall not prosper.
 These are the signs which I am permitted to tell you, and if you pray again, and weep as you do now, and fast for seven days, you shall hear yet greater things than these."
 Then I awoke, and my body shuddered violently, and my soul was so troubled that it fainted.
 But the angel who had come and talked with me held me and strengthened me and set me on my feet.
 Now on the second night Phaltiel, a chief of the people, came to me and said, "Where have you been? And why is your face sad?
 Or do you not know that Israel has been entrusted to you in the land of their exile?
 Rise therefore and eat some bread, so that you may not forsake us, like a shepherd who leaves his flock in the power of cruel wolves."
 Then I said to him, "Depart from me and do not come near me for seven days, and then you may come to me." He heard what I said and left me.
 So I fasted seven days, mourning and weeping, as Uriel the angel had commanded me.
 And after seven days the thoughts of my heart were very grievous to me again.
 Then my soul recovered the spirit of understanding, and I began once more to speak words in the presence of the Most High.
 And I said, "O sovereign Lord, from every forest of the earth and from all its trees thou hast chosen one vine,
 and from all the lands of the world thou hast chosen for thyself one region, and from all the flowers of the world thou hast chosen for thyself one lily,
 and from all the depths of the sea thou hast filled for thyself one river, and from all the cities that have been built thou hast consecrated Zion for thyself,
 and from all the birds that have been created thou hast named for thyself one dove, and from all the flocks that have been made thou hast provided for thyself one sheep,
 and from all the multitude of peoples thou hast gotten for thyself one people; and to this people, whom thou hast loved, thou hast given the law which is approved by all.
 And now, O Lord, why hast thou given over the one to the many, and dishonored the one root beyond the others, and scattered thine only one among the many?
 And those who opposed thy promises have trodden down those who believed thy covenants.
 If thou dost really hate thy people, they should be punished at thy own hands."
 When I had spoken these words, the angel who had come to me on a previous night was sent to me,
 and he said to me, "Listen to me, and I will instruct you; pay attention to me, and I will tell you more."
 And I said, "Speak, my lord." And he said to me, "Are you greatly disturbed in mind over Israel? Or do you love him more than his Maker does?"
 And I said, "No, my lord, but because of my grief I have spoken; for every hour I suffer agonies of heart, while I strive to understand the way of the Most High and to search out part of his judgment."
 And he said to me, "You cannot." And I said, "Why not, my lord? Why then was I born? Or why did not my mother's womb become my grave, that I might not see the travail of Jacob and the exhaustion of the people of Israel?"
 He said to me, "Count up for me those who have not yet come, and gather for me the scattered raindrops, and make the withered flowers bloom again for me;
 open for me the closed chambers, and bring forth for me the winds shut up in them, or show me the picture of a voice; and then I will explain to you the travail that you ask to understand."
 And I said, "O sovereign Lord, who is able to know these things except he whose dwelling is not with men?
 As for me, I am without wisdom, and how can I speak concerning the things which thou hast asked me?"
 He said to me, "Just as you cannot do one of the things that were mentioned, so you cannot discover my judgment, or the goal of the love that I have promised my people."
 And I said, "Yet behold, O Lord, thou dost have charge of those who are alive at the end, but what will those do who were before us, or we, or those who come after us?"
 He said to me, "I shall liken my judgment to a circle; just as for those who are last there is no slowness, so for those who are first there is no haste."
 Then I answered and said, "Couldst thou not have created at one time those who have been and those who are and those who will be, that thou mightest show thy judgment the sooner?"
 He replied to me and said, "The creation cannot make more haste than the Creator, neither can the world hold at one time those who have been created in it."
 And I said, "How hast thou said to thy servant that thou wilt certainly give life at one time to thy creation? If therefore all creatures will live at one time and the creation will sustain them, it might even now be able to support all of them present at one time."
 He said to me, "Ask a woman's womb, and say to it, `If you bear ten children, why one after another?' Request it therefore to produce ten at one time."
 I said, "Of course it cannot, but only each in its own time."
 He said to me, "Even so have I given the womb of the earth to those who from time to time are sown in it.
 For as an infant does not bring forth, and a woman who has become old does not bring forth any longer, so have I organized the world which I created."
 Then I inquired and said, "Since thou hast now given me the opportunity, let me speak before thee. Is our mother, of whom thou hast told me, still young? Or is she now approaching old age?"
 He replied to me, "Ask a woman who bears children, and she will tell you.
 Say to her, "Why are those whom you have borne recently not like those whom you bore before, but smaller in stature?'
 And she herself will answer you, `Those born in the strength of youth are different from those born during the time of old age, when the womb is failing.'
 Therefore you also should consider that you and your contemporaries are smaller in stature than those who were before you,
 and those who come after you will be smaller than you, as born of a creation which already is aging and passing the strength of youth."
 And I said, "O Lord, I beseech thee, if I have found favor in thy sight, show thy servant through whom thou dost visit thy creation."
 And he said to me, "At the beginning of the circle of the earth, before the portals of the world were in place, and before the assembled winds blew,
 and before the rumblings of thunder sounded, and before the flashes of lightning shone, and before the foundations of paradise were laid,
 and before the beautiful flowers were seen, and before the powers of movement were established, and before the innumerable hosts of angels were gathered together,
 and before the heights of the air were lifted up, and before the measures of the firmaments were named, and before the footstool of Zion was established,
 and before the present years were reckoned; and before the imaginations of those who now sin were estranged, and before those who stored up treasures of faith were sealed --
 then I planned these things, and they were made through me and not through another, just as the end shall come through me and not through another."
 And I answered and said, "What will be the dividing of the times? Or when will be the end of the first age and the beginning of the age that follows?"
 He said to me, "From Abraham to Isaac, because from him were born Jacob and Esau, for Jacob's hand held Esau's heel from the beginning.
 For Esau is the end of this age, and Jacob is the beginning of the age that follows.
 For the beginning of a man is his hand, and the end of a man is his heel; between the heel and the hand seek for nothing else, Ezra!"
 I answered and said, "O sovereign Lord, if I have found favor in thy sight,
 show thy servant the end of thy signs which thou didst show me in part on a previous night."
 He answered and said to me, "Rise to your feet and you will hear a full, resounding voice.
 And if the place where you are standing is greatly shaken
 while the voice is speaking, do not be terrified; because the word concerns the end, and the foundations of the earth will understand
 that the speech concerns them. They will tremble and be shaken, for they know that their end must be changed."
 When I heard this, I rose to my feet and listened, and behold, a voice was speaking, and its sound was like the sound of many waters.
 And it said, "Behold, the days are coming, and it shall be that when I draw near to visit the inhabitants of the earth,
 and when I require from the doers of iniquity the penalty of their iniquity, and when the humiliation of Zion is complete,
 and when the seal is placed upon the age which is about to pass away, then I will show these signs: the books shall be opened before the firmament, and all shall see it together.
 Infants a year old shall speak with their voices, and women with child shall give birth to premature children at three and four months, and these shall live and dance.
 Sown places shall suddenly appear unsown, and full storehouses shall suddenly be found to be empty;
 and the trumpet shall sound aloud, and when all hear it, they shall suddenly be terrified.
 At that time friends shall make war on friends like enemies, and the earth and those who inhabit it shall be terrified, and the springs of the fountains shall stand still, so that for three hours they shall not flow.
 "And it shall be that whoever remains after all that I have foretold to you shall himself be saved and shall see my salvation and the end of my world.
 And they shall see the men who were taken up, who from their birth have not tasted death; and the heart of the earth's inhabitants shall be changed and converted to a different spirit.
 For evil shall be blotted out, and deceit shall be quenched;
 faithfulness shall flourish, and corruption shall be overcome, and the truth, which has been so long without fruit, shall be revealed."
 While he spoke to me, behold, little by little the place where I was standing began to rock to and fro.
 And he said to me, "I have come to show you these things this night.
 If therefore you will pray again and fast again for seven days, I will again declare to you greater things than these,
 because your voice has surely been heard before the Most High; for the Mighty One has seen your uprightness and has also observed the purity which you have maintained from your youth.
 Therefore he sent me to show you all these things, and to say to you: `Believe and do not be afraid!
 Do not be quick to think vain thoughts concerning the former times, lest you be hasty concerning the last times.'"
 Now after this I wept again and fasted seven days as before, in order to complete the three weeks as I had been told.
 And on the eighth night my heart was troubled within me again, and I began to speak in the presence of the Most High.
 For my spirit was greatly aroused, and my soul was in distress.
 I said, "O Lord, thou didst speak at the beginning of creation, and didst say on the first day, `Let heaven and earth be made,' and thy word accomplished the work.
 And then the Spirit was hovering, and darkness and silence embraced everything; the sound of man's voice was not yet there.
 Then thou didst command that a ray of light be brought forth from thy treasuries, so that thy works might then appear.
 "Again, on the second day, thou didst create the spirit of the firmament, and didst command him to divide and separate the waters, that one part might move upward and the other part remain beneath.
 "On the third day thou didst command the waters to be gathered together in the seventh part of the earth; six parts thou didst dry up and keep so that some of them might be planted and cultivated and be of service before thee.
 For thy word went forth, and at once the work was done.
 For immediately fruit came forth in endless abundance and of varied appeal to the taste; and flowers of inimitable color; and odors of inexpressible fragrance. These were made on the third day.
 "On the fourth day thou didst command the brightness of the sun, the light of the moon, and the arrangement of the stars to come into being;
 and thou didst command them to serve man, who was about to be formed.
 "On the fifth day thou didst command the seventh part, where the water had been gathered together, to bring forth living creatures, birds, and fishes; and so it was done.
 The dumb and lifeless water produced living creatures, as it was commanded, that therefore the nations might declare thy wondrous works.
 "Then thou didst keep in existence two living creatures; the name of one thou didst call Behemoth and the name of the other Leviathan.
 And thou didst separate one from the other, for the seventh part where the water had been gathered together could not hold them both.
 And thou didst give Behemoth one of the parts which had been dried up on the third day, to live in it, where there are a thousand mountains;
 but to Leviathan thou didst give the seventh part, the watery part; and thou hast kept them to be eaten by whom thou wilt, and when thou wilt.
 "On the sixth day thou didst command the earth to bring forth before thee cattle, beasts, and creeping things;
 and over these thou didst place Adam, as ruler over all the works which thou hadst made; and from him we have all come, the people whom thou hast chosen.
 "All this I have spoken before thee, O Lord, because thou hast said that it was for us that thou didst create this world.
 As for the other nations which have descended from Adam, thou hast said that they are nothing, and that they are like spittle, and thou hast compared their abundance to a drop from a bucket.
 And now, O Lord, behold, these nations, which are reputed as nothing, domineer over us and devour us.
 But we thy people, whom thou hast called thy first-born, only begotten, zealous for thee, and most dear, have been given into their hands.
 If the world has indeed been created for us, why do we not possess our world as an inheritance? How long will this be so?"
 When I had finished speaking these words, the angel who had been sent to me on the former nights was sent to me again,
 and he said to me, "Rise, Ezra, and listen to the words that I have come to speak to you."
 I said, "Speak, my lord." And he said to me, "There is a sea set in a wide expanse so that it is broad and vast,
 but it has an entrance set in a narrow place, so that it is like a river.
 If any one, then, wishes to reach the sea, to look at it or to navigate it, how can he come to the broad part unless he passes through the narrow part?
 Another example: There is a city built and set on a plain, and it is full of all good things;
 but the entrance to it is narrow and set in a precipitous place, so that there is fire on the right hand and deep water on the left;
 and there is only one path lying between them, that is, between the fire and the water, so that only one man can walk upon that path.
 If now that city is given to a man for an inheritance, how will the heir receive his inheritance unless he passes through the danger set before him?"
 I said, "He cannot, lord." And he said to me, "So also is Israel's portion.
 For I made the world for their sake, and when Adam transgressed my statutes, what had been made was judged.
 And so the entrances of this world were made narrow and sorrowful and toilsome; they are few and evil, full of dangers and involved in great hardships.
 But the entrances of the greater world are broad and safe, and really yield the fruit of immortality.
 Therefore unless the living pass through the difficult and vain experiences, they can never receive those things that have been reserved for them.
 But now why are you disturbed, seeing that you are to perish? And why are you moved, seeing that you are mortal?
 And why have you not considered in your mind what is to come, rather than what is now present?"
 Then I answered and said, "O sovereign Lord, behold, thou hast ordained in thy law that the righteous shall inherit these things, but that the ungodly shall perish.
 The righteous therefore can endure difficult circumstances while hoping for easier ones; but those who have done wickedly have suffered the difficult circumstances and will not see the easier ones."
 And he said to me, "You are not a better judge than God, or wiser than the Most High!
 Let many perish who are now living, rather than that the law of God which is set before them be disregarded!
 For God strictly commanded those who came into the world, when they came, what they should do to live, and what they should observe to avoid punishment.
 Nevertheless they were not obedient, and spoke against him; they devised for themselves vain thoughts,
 and proposed to themselves wicked frauds; they even declared that the Most High does not exist, and they ignored his ways!
 They scorned his law, and denied his covenants; they have been unfaithful to his statutes, and have not performed his works.
 "Therefore, Ezra, empty things are for the empty, and full things are for the full.
 For behold, the time will come, when the signs which I have foretold to you will come to pass, that the city which now is not seen shall appear, and the land which now is hidden shall be disclosed.
 And every one who has been delivered from the evils that I have foretold shall see my wonders.
 For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him, and those who remain shall rejoice four hundred years.
 And after these years my son the Messiah shall die, and all who draw human breath.
 And the world shall be turned back to primeval silence for seven days, as it was at the first beginnings; so that no one shall be left.
 And after seven days the world, which is not yet awake, shall be roused, and that which is corruptible shall perish.
 And the earth shall give up those who are asleep in it, and the dust those who dwell silently in it; and the chambers shall give up the souls which have been committed to them.
 And the Most High shall be revealed upon the seat of judgment, and compassion shall pass away, and patience shall be withdrawn;
 but only judgment shall remain, truth shall stand, and faithfulness shall grow strong.
 And recompense shall follow, and the reward shall be manifested; righteous deeds shall awake, and unrighteous deeds shall not sleep.
 Then the pit of torment shall appear, and opposite it shall be the place of rest; and the furnace of hell shall be disclosed, and opposite it the paradise of delight.
 Then the Most High will say to the nations that have been raised from the dead, `Look now, and understand whom you have denied, whom you have not served, whose commandments you have despised!
 Look on this side and on that; here are delight and rest, and there are fire and torments!' Thus he will speak to them on the day of judgment --
 a day that has no sun or moon or stars,
 or cloud or thunder or lightning or wind or water or air, or darkness or evening or morning,
 or summer or spring or heat or winter or frost or cold or hail or rain or dew,
 or noon or night, or dawn or shining or brightness or light, but only the splendor of the glory of the Most High, by which all shall see what has been determined for them.
 For it will last for about a week of years.
 This is my judgment and its prescribed order; and to you alone have I shown these things."
 I answered and said, "O sovereign Lord, I said then and I say now: Blessed are those who are alive and keep thy commandments!
 But what of those for whom I prayed? For who among the living is there that has not sinned, or who among men that has not transgressed thy covenant?
 And now I see that the world to come will bring delight to few, but torments to many.
 For an evil heart has grown up in us, which has alienated us from God, and has brought us into corruption and the ways of death, and has shown us the paths of perdition and removed us far from life -- and that not just a few of us but almost all who have been created!"
 He answered me and said, "Listen to me, Ezra, and I will instruct you, and will admonish you yet again.
 For this reason the Most High has made not one world but two.
 For whereas you have said that the righteous are not many but few, while the ungodly abound, hear the explanation for this.
 "If you have just a few precious stones, will you add to them lead and clay?"
 I said, "Lord, how could that be?"
 And he said to me, "Not only that, but ask the earth and she will tell you; defer to her, and she will declare it to you.
 Say to her, `You produce gold and silver and brass, and also iron and lead and clay;
 but silver is more abundant than gold, and brass than silver, and iron than brass, and lead than iron, and clay than lead.'
 Judge therefore which things are precious and desirable, those that are abundant or those that are rare?"
 I said, "O sovereign Lord, what is plentiful is of less worth, for what is more rare is more precious."
 He answered me and said, "Weigh within yourself what you have thought, for he who has what is hard to get rejoices more than he who has what is plentiful.
 So also will be the judgment which I have promised; for I will rejoice over the few who shall be saved, because it is they who have made my glory to prevail now, and through them my name has now been honored.
 And I will not grieve over the multitude of those who perish; for it is they who are now like a mist, and are similar to a flame and smoke -- they are set on fire and burn hotly, and are extinguished."
 I replied and said, "O earth, what have you brought forth, if the mind is made out of the dust like the other created things!
 For it would have been better if the dust itself had not been born, so that the mind might not have been made from it.
 But now the mind grows with us, and therefore we are tormented, because we perish and know it.
 Let the human race lament, but let the beasts of the field be glad; let all who have been born lament, but let the four-footed beasts and the flocks rejoice!
 For it is much better with them than with us; for they do not look for a judgment, nor do they know of any torment or salvation promised to them after death.
 For what does it profit us that we shall be preserved alive but cruelly tormented?
 For all who have been born are involved in iniquities, and are full of sins and burdened with transgressions.
 And if we were not to come into judgment after death, perhaps it would have been better for us."
 He answered me and said, "When the Most High made the world and Adam and all who have come from him, he first prepared the judgment and the things that pertain to the judgment.
 And now understand from your own words, for you have said that the mind grows with us.
 For this reason, therefore, those who dwell on earth shall be tormented, because though they had understanding they committed iniquity, and though they received the commandments they did not keep them, and though they obtained the law they dealt unfaithfully with what they received.
 What, then, will they have to say in the judgment, or how will they answer in the last times?
 For how long the time is that the Most High has been patient with those who inhabit the world, and not for their sake, but because of the times which he has foreordained!"
 I answered and said, "If I have found favor in thy sight, O Lord, show this also to thy servant: whether after death, as soon as every one of us yields up his soul, we shall be kept in rest until those times come when thou wilt renew the creation, or whether we shall be tormented at once?"
 He answered me and said, "I will show you that also, but do not be associated with those who have shown scorn, nor number yourself among those who are tormented.
 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.
 Now, concerning death, the teaching is: When the decisive decree has gone forth from the Most High that a man shall die, as the spirit leaves the body to return again to him who gave it, first of all it adores the glory of the Most High.
 And if it is one of those who have shown scorn and have not kept the way of the Most High, and who have despised his law, and who have hated those who fear God --
 such spirits shall not enter into habitations, but shall immediately wander about in torments, ever grieving and sad, in seven ways.
 The first way, because they have scorned the law of the Most High.
 The second way, because they cannot now make a good repentance that they may live.
 The third way, they shall see the reward laid up for those who have trusted the covenants of the Most High.
 The fourth way, they shall consider the torment laid up for themselves in the last days.
 The fifth way, they shall see how the habitations of the others are guarded by angels in profound quiet.
 The sixth way, they shall see how some of them will pass over into torments.
 The seventh way, which is worse than all the ways that have been mentioned, because they shall utterly waste away in confusion and be consumed with shame, and shall wither with fear at seeing the glory of the Most High before whom they sinned while they were alive, and before whom they are to be judged in the last times.
 "Now this is the order of those who have kept the ways of the Most High, when they shall be separated from their mortal body.
 During the time that they lived in it, they laboriously served the Most High, and withstood danger every hour, that they might keep the law of the Lawgiver perfectly.
 Therefore this is the teaching concerning them:
 First of all, they shall see with great joy the glory of him who receives them, for they shall have rest in seven orders.
 The first order, because they have striven with great effort to overcome the evil thought which was formed with them, that it might not lead them astray from life into death.
 The second order, because they see the perplexity in which the souls of the ungodly wander, and the punishment that awaits them.
 The third order, they see the witness which he who formed them bears concerning them, that while they were alive they kept the law which was given them in trust.
 The fourth order, they understand the rest which they now enjoy, being gathered into their chambers and guarded by angels in profound quiet, and the glory which awaits them in the last days.
 The fifth order, they rejoice that they have now escaped what is corruptible, and shall inherit what is to come; and besides they see the straits and toil from which they have been delivered, and the spacious liberty which they are to receive and enjoy in immortality.
 The sixth order, when it is shown to them how their face is to shine like the sun, and how they are to be made like the light of the stars, being incorruptible from then on.
 The seventh order, which is greater than all that have been mentioned, because they shall rejoice with boldness, and shall be confident without confusion, and shall be glad without fear, for they hasten to behold the face of him whom they served in life and from whom they are to receive their reward when glorified.
 This is the order of the souls of the righteous, as henceforth is announced; and the aforesaid are the ways of torment which those who would not give heed shall suffer hereafter."
 I answered and said, "Will time therefore be given to the souls, after they have been separated from the bodies, to see what you have described to me?"
 He said to me, "They shall have freedom for seven days, so that during these seven days they may see the things of which you have been told, and afterwards they shall be gathered in their habitations."
 I answered and said, "If I have found favor in thy sight, show further to me, thy servant, whether on the day of judgment the righteous will be able to intercede for the ungodly or to entreat the Most High for them,
 fathers for sons or sons for parents, brothers for brothers, relatives for their kinsmen, or friends for those who are most dear."
 He answered me and said, "Since you have found favor in my sight, I will show you this also. The day of judgment is decisive and displays to all the seal of truth. Just as now a father does not send his son, or a son his father, or a master his servant, or a friend his dearest friend, to be ill or sleep or eat or be healed in his stead,
 so no one shall ever pray for another on that day, neither shall any one lay a burden on another; for then every one shall bear his own righteousness and unrighteousness."
[36(106)] I answered and said, "How then do we find that first Abraham prayed for the people of Sodom, and Moses for our fathers who sinned in the desert,
[37(107)] and Joshua after him for Israel in the days of Achan,
[38(108)] and Samuel in the days of Saul, and David for the plague, and Solomon for those in the sanctuary,
[39(109)] and Elijah for those who received the rain, and for the one who was dead, that he might live,
[40(110)] and Hezekiah for the people in the days of Sennacherib, and many others prayed for many?
[41(111)] If therefore the righteous have prayed for the ungodly now, when corruption has increased and unrighteousness has multiplied, why will it not be so then as well?"
[42(112)] He answered me and said, "This present world is not the end; the full glory does not abide in it; therefore those who were strong prayed for the weak.
[43(113)] But the day of judgment will be the end of this age and the beginning of the immortal age to come, in which corruption has passed away,
[44(114)] sinful indulgence has come to an end, unbelief has been cut off, and righteousness has increased and truth has appeared.
[45(115)] Therefore no one will then be able to have mercy on him who has been condemned in the judgment, or to harm him who is victorious."
[46(116)] I answered and said, "This is my first and last word, that it would have been better if the earth had not produced Adam, or else, when it had produced him, had restrained him from sinning.
[47(117)] For what good is it to all that they live in sorrow now and expect punishment after death?
[48(118)] O Adam, what have you done? For though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours also who are your descendants.
[49(119)] For what good is it to us, if an eternal age has been promised to us, but we have done deeds that bring death?
[50(120)] And what good is it that an everlasting hope has been promised to us, but we have miserably failed?
[51(121)] Or that safe and healthful habitations have been reserved for us, but we have lived wickedly?
[52(122)] Or that the glory of the Most High will defend those who have led a pure life, but we have walked in the most wicked ways?
[53(123)] Or that a paradise shall be revealed, whose fruit remains unspoiled and in which are abundance and healing, but we shall not enter it,
[54(124)] because we have lived in unseemly places?
[55(125)] Or that the faces of those who practiced self-control shall shine more than the stars, but our faces shall be blacker than darkness?
[56(126)] For while we lived and committed iniquity we did not consider what we should suffer after death."
[57(127)] He answered and said, "This is the meaning of the contest which every man who is born on earth shall wage,
[58(128)] that if he is defeated he shall suffer what you have said, but if he is victorious he shall receive what I have said.
[59(129)] For this is the way of which Moses, while he was alive, spoke to the people, saying, `Choose for yourself life, that you may live!'